Reading the Vietnam War and Encountering Other Others: Race and Ethnicity in American Novels of the Vietnam War
McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Ethnicity, Race, War
This dissertation examines four novels that specifically and deliberately focus on the perspectives of people of color in the United States in order to explore a gap in the conversations surrounding representation of the Vietnam War. Opening the canon to include more diverse perspectives of the Vietnam War acknowledges how predominantly white representation of the war effaces the experiences of the many soldiers of color, who often fought and died in disproportionately greater numbers than white soldiers, and attempts to redress such erasure. These novels include Arthur R. Flowers's De Mojo Blues, which focuses on African American soldiersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ experience and highlights intra-racial conflicts and Lan Cao's Monkey Bridge, an exploration of Vietnamese American women living as refugees in the United States. Additionally, Alfredo VÃƒÂ©a's Gods Go Begging and Linda Hogan's People of the Whale go beyond the Chicano and Native American identities of their respective protagonists by including a diverse range of voices and re-imagining boundaries associated with racial and national identities. Responding to the myth of American exceptionalism, the novels illuminate how the war perpetuated long-standing systems of oppression and interrogate oppositions between self and other, individual and community, and past and present that war often sustains. As such these novels emerge as critical interventions in discourses of race and nation by highlighting and creating space for difference. Ultimately, these novels provide a vision of hope by imagining a world that embraces the complexities of cross-cultural community rather than merely superficial melting pot diversity.
Rentschler, E. (2016). Reading the Vietnam War and Encountering Other Others: Race and Ethnicity in American Novels of the Vietnam War (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/1533