English 345: Advanced Study to Modern & Postmodern U.S. Literature
Preface to English 345
In English 345: Advanced Study in Modern and Postmodern United States Literature, the final assignment asked students to choose from any author and text the sixteen-week course went over. I chose Helan Maria Viramontes’s “The Cariboo Café” for my final project, and with my choice, I decided to focus on the psychological complexities in Viramontes’s characters who exhibit the Exile and Immigrant Narrative. My interest for Helena Maria Viramontes’s “The Cariboo Café” came from the short-story’s prioritization to border-politics. The text examines the border patrol as a fluid institutional structures that affects undocumented people’s lives, even when an undocumented person is already in the country. Through a psychological lens, I explore the trauma that builds from one of the main characters, and the way one individual’s trauma influence the consequences of people around the individual with the traumatic experience. Through a race and culture lens, I question the Mexican hegemonic hold over the exile and immigrant narrative, which unintentionally discredits the same struggles people of other South American nations face. Additionally, I apply a feminist lens to Viramontes’s “The Cariboo Café,” to understand why it is only the women-identifying characters who become expendable, and face the most physical and emotional burden. The work I put into my essay is reflective of my political beliefs surrounding the institutional structure of the border, so understanding the humanity behind Viramontes’s characters in “The Cariboo Café” allowed me to further understand my own necessity in learning the complexities behind the border as an institutional structure, the impact of trauma, and the complexities that infringe on people’s lives because of borders.