Ever Changing

An idea that Yamashita explores thoroughly throughout her book is the use of connections between people, not just because their lives are all intertwined, but because of the aspects of their lives that they share in common. All of the characters of the book are not white, and all share the same commonality that they are people living in LA who come from somewhere different. We see this with Bobby and Rafaela’s characters, both being from outside countries. Bobby embraces the working American lifestyle, and tries to make as much money as he can, while Rafaela questions the endless working that her and Bobby do and returns to her roots. Both, to me, represent these different sides that people struggle with throughout the novel, with the immersion into American culture and ideals on one side, and the importance of not forgetting your own culture and where you come from.

I see this represented with the battle between Arcangel and Supernafta, because Arcangel represents a constant, something that has been around for years and years. He shows us how the world we live in is ever changing, but reminds people to be wary of so called progress. His opponent, Supernafta, embodies the oppression on immigrants, and tries to convince the people (crowd) that these ideas are a good thing, talking about money and “think of the children”.

Both cases represented to me the different sides that people such as immigrants struggle with when making their lives in a new place, and represent the spread of Northern ideas and cultures. While progress can be a good thing, and like Arcangel says, the world is “Ever changing”, it is arguably “good” if it takes over or wipes out the culture of a people.

2 Responses to Ever Changing

  1. Hannah Hartley February 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm #

    I too found this theme very interesting in The Tropic of Orange. The climactic wrestling match very clearly displays the tensions many immigrants face – should they assimilate or should they hold fast to their roots? Arcangel, as El Gran Mojado, physically embodies the vast and storied histories of those with connections to countries outside of America, even if they are not immigrants themselves. Supernafta, who stands for the “progress” achieved by assimilation, woos half of his detractors over with promises of a “twelve percent cut plus toys for all the children of the world,” which Arcangel immediately calls out as a farce (Yamashita 258). This commentary on the effects of assimilation and NAFTA in particular really drives home one of Yamashita’s biggest themes in this novel, that the cultures and peoples of developing nations cannot and will not be overlooked in favor of building America’s success.

  2. Prof VZ February 22, 2016 at 12:19 am #

    Yes, though the grand fight can seem cartoonish, it’s a really interesting way to cast the forces that constrain and enable identities–especially the kind of borderland / immigrant identities that Yamashita explores here.

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