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Pathways: A Journal of Humanistic and Social Inquiry

Abstract

Immigrant experiences are often characterized by identity anxiety and a corresponding longing to identify a single place to call “home.” In Julia Alvarez’s "Antojos" and Ana Menéndez’s "Her Mother's House," the main characters return to their native or ancestral land in search of a space to claim as home, and relatedly, a permanent location for a fixed identity in the Caribbean. This paper examines how in these works, typically unbeknownst to the protagonists themselves, establishing a home regularly takes the form of securing what they perceive to be “wholeness” and “completion.” I argue that the texts reveal that the protagonists’ search for a fixed and static place to call home, derived from desires of identity completion, cannot be found, and rather their place of arrival can solely exist in the ambiguity of language and memory. As such, eventually, the reader is prompted to understand that not having a traditional essentialized notion of home to guide the protagonists frees them and allows them to embrace rather than reject their linguistic and spatial multiplicities.

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