Degree Year

2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Advisor(s)

Harold Suarez

Keywords

The Book of Salt, Subaltern, Subversion, Language, Hybridity, Affirmative deconstruction

Abstract

This paper examines The Book of Salt as a subaltern project. Binh, the protagonist of the novel, is a figure whose story has been recovered from the margins of history. The first part of the paper examines the oppressive conditions that marginalize him and how he negotiates and subverts those conditions. The second part explores the limits of such subaltern subversion and representation. Through such an examination, I raise critical questions about representing the subaltern subject in the fields of literature and Asian American studies. How can we represent the subaltern, when we cannot represent the subaltern? How do we hear their voice, when the subaltern cannot speak? These paradoxical dilemmas need not preclude Asian American studies scholars from exploring subaltern narratives. Rather, hybrid narratives such as The Book of Salt, when accompanied by a critical examination of their limits, are essential to subverting official narratives and decolonizing the fields of literature and historiography.

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