Date of Award
Master of Arts
In this thesis, I argue that in Hijuelos's Our House in the Last World and A Simple Habana Melody Cuban national identity is shaped by trauma, exile, and remembering. These traits define what it means to be Cuban---and it is more varied and complicated than perhaps it initially seems. National identity can be defined in many ways, through racial identification, cultural practices, language, traditions, or politics. Certainly there is evidence that Cuban national identity is shaped by these factors inside Cuba, but my emphasis within Hijuelos's two novels is that these factors shape Cubans outside of Cuba. Hijuelos writes about the Cuba before Fidel Castro assumed power and before the Cuban Revolution that most other Cuban American writers concern their literature with, which makes him quite an anomaly. The fact that Hijuelos does not singularly concern himself with the Cuban Revolution and its effects means he is treating Cuban and Cuban American identity and history in a more varied fashion than other Cuban American authors. The history and identity that Hijuelos offers a reader is much broader and longer than the history most U.S. audiences are familiar with. This forces most readers to understand Cuban or Cuban American identity in new, and perhaps much richer, terms. By introducing a more complete Cuban history to his readers, Hijuelos makes it clear that Cubans have both memory and trauma that extend beyond Castro, and thus the result is an even stronger emphasis on memory as a vital part of being Cuban.
Digital Repository @ Iowa State University, http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/
Cerretti, Lauren, "Connecting to Cuban national identity through literature: an examination of memory, nostalgia, trauma and exile in Oscar Hijuelos's Our House in the Last World and A Simple Habana Melody" (2008). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 15310.