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Los Angeles as an arrival city? Mexican-American spaces in contemporary literature

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posted on 2023-08-30, 16:51 authored by Carla S. Gierich
The thesis explores whether Los Angeles could be regarded as an Arrival City for the Mexican-American protagonists in The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gómez (John Rechy, 2006 [1991]), Their Dogs Came with Them (Helena María Viramontes, 2007), and The Barbarian Nurseries (Héctor Tobar, 2012). The study focuses especially on the depiction of city space within these contemporary LA novels and examines to which extent the protagonists are able to navigate and appropriate these spaces. Arrival is understood here not as a fixed, static goal, but an ongoing process of entries and openings that the protagonists can use to insert themselves into city space. Arrival means a creative usage of city space through the creation of third spaces, borderlands, transculturality, and liminality. Successful arrival processes do not only require these fluid and mobile liminal spaces, but also a sense of emplacement to allow for the chance of participation in actively shape city space. A close reading of the novels suggests that it remains difficult for the protagonists to create a sense of arrival. In The Miraculous Day, city space remains inaccessible behind a maze of stereotypes that hinder an appropriation of space. In Their Dogs, city space itself remains so hostile due to quarantine roadblocks and freeway construction that deconstructions of colonial binaries are only possible on a metatextual level through myth, metaphor, and story. In Nurseries, city space is depicted as a fiction that hinders the protagonists’ arrival at the American Dream, although in the end, there is the possibility of accessing the metaphysical aspect of the Dream, not through city space appropriation, but through the belief in the equality of opportunities.



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