Category: Tales of Immigration (10/31)


Discrimintion

In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, the creature wished to prove to Victor “the truth of my tale” through Safie’s letters written to Felix, because he too feels the same isolation as Safie. Though Safie is a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey seeking refuge, the creature identifies with Safie because she is a foreigner. Like the creature, Safie is different from those who she is surrounded by and in the same way , they seek refuge from society after being rejected. To illustrate, it is stated that Safie “.. was neither understood by, nor herself understood, the cottagers” (106). Safie and her father both face hardships because of their appearance.They are all marginalized by the society they live in, trying to adapt to Europe and a culture that is foreign to them. Meanwhile on the other hand, Victor Frankenstein travels to several places in the novel without getting questioned if he belonged there since he is a white male and doesn’t face any obstacles doing so. This relates very much to today, because people are outcasted simply for their skin, race, or status.  They are dehumanized, called rapists, terrorists, and more. Immigrants who travel to America, in search for “The American Dream” and better opportunities that denied to them in their home countries, are seen as “inhumane” or “animals”.

-Dalia Ulloa

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The more that I discovered about critical race theories, specifically Gloria Anzaldúa’s ideas on “new mestizos” and her work “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, the clearer it became as to why the creature in Shelley’s “Frankenstein” insisted on making sure his truth and tale were heard and sharing Safie’s letters with his creator. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Anzaldúa argues for “the ways in which identity is intertwined with the way we speak and for the ways people can be made to feel ashamed of their own tongues.” (1) The idea she introduces of “new mestizo” revolves around people who inhabit multiple worlds due to gender, ethnicity, body, and/or other life experiences. She believes that tongue, or language, is extremely important when it comes to asserting one’s place in society and the way we function within it. When we learn language it allows us to enter into a new world along with other worlds we might already exist among. Gloria states in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, “A language which they can connect their identity to, one capable of communicating the realities and values true to themselves” (4). With this, I believe she argues that language is a thread people have that ties them to their identity – because after all, it is what allows us to express our thoughts, worries, and problems with other people. She later states, “Now that we had a name, some of the fragmented pieces began to fall together – who we were, what we were, how we had evolved.” She says that due to her established language, and her understanding of it and her use of it to communicate, she was finally able to understand herself and her place in the world. I think this is highly important if we connect these same ideas to the creature in Shelley’s “Frankenstein”.

In “Frankenstein”, the creature is abandoned by his creator and becomes aware of his inability to understand the language of the society he was forced to inhabit and recognizes his inability to communicate with those around him in order to explain himself and his situation – this inability then leads him to get beaten and attacked by the villagers who find him. That instance is what drives the creature to eventually have the urge to become educated and dominant of the language he so desperately needed to understand if he wanted to function within society. With this, I was able to conclude that due to the creature’s inability to comprehend language he had no set identity and he was incapable of affirming a solid place in his society because he yet had no way to express himself, his thoughts, or what had driven/gotten him to that point he was in. The creature was aware of how important language was going to be for him if he wanted to exist among the current society and we see it when he says, “I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language; which knowledge might enable me to make them overlook the deformity of my figure” (104). He refused to approach the villagers he admired before he mastered their language because he believed that by mastering it beforehand, they would look past his deformity because he would have the ability to explain himself and have a way to roam society and communicate. This is important to why he insisted on being heard – he was finally able to master the very thing that prevented him from being a complete member of society. He had now become a part of what Gloria would call “new mestizo” because he was entering a new world he wasn’t a part of before. So when he was finally able to learn the language, he wanted to make sure he used it to explain himself and communicate. He used Safie’s letters in order for Victor to see his situation in a different light and perspective considering he and Safie had experienced the same type of isolation due to language barriers. Overall, i believe we can see Gloria’s theory of “new mestizo” within Victor Frankenstein’s creation because once he moves past the language barrier, he inhabits multiple worlds within society as it allows him to become a member of it, finally.

-Beverly Miranda

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the topics of immigration and the constant desire to belong within society are prominent and are important to understanding an individual’s identity. For example, the creature insists on proving “the truth of my tale” by providing Victor with the letters from the Muslim Arab immigrant from Turkey named Safie. Victor is in great need of understanding the creature’s struggles and the internalized colonization that suppresses him from further prospering in life. The creature is diligent in his quest for belonging within society, for his journey towards societal acceptance is similar to that of Safie and Felix’s. The letters describe the father and daughter’s situation, explaining, “the Turk entered his daughter’s apartment, and told her hastily, that he had reason to believe that his residence at Leghorn had been divulged, and that he should speedily be delivered up to the French government”, (Shelley 113).

Similarly, Frankenstein’s creation is put in the same situation as the Muslim immigrants, who are told that they are going to be turned into law enforcement officials. The creature relates to these immigrants because he also experiences these emotions from being an outcast in society. The creature solely longs to belong and feel accepted by the people of the village in which he resides, but knows that this craving is not likely to be fulfilled. Additionally, Felix and the creature can be seen as inhabitants of the borderland, in which they are in a constant state of indecisiveness between which country they fully belong to. Author Gloria E. Anzaldua states that residents of borderlands have the ability to create their own identity and not conform to societal wants and desires. Using this theory, the creature and Felix are living in a state of mind that is dictated by their placement within society, in which they are in dire need of understanding their own true identity.

Written by Cathryn Flores

In literary works from a certain intellectual such as W.E.B. Du Bois allows for a new perspective to come about, the subject being race studies and applying it to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In Shelley’s novel, there are a few similarities that can be noticed between the creature and Safie, an adopted member of the De Lacy family. Both Safie and the creature have similarities in the sense that they have progressed through similar hardships and interactions, also allowing for the idea of the creature being a colonized subject, to arise.

The creature and Safie have shared similar experiences and hardships, allowing for the creature to relate to her and identify with her story a bit more. The way the creature identified with Safie was through the way that the creature uses Safie’s experiences and story to address Victor, his creator, and explain how he was searching for the story behind the creature’s own life. Similar to the creature, Safie was described as not being clearly understood, not even by cottagers, this reflects a parallel to the way the creature could not firmly understand a language. This can relate back to Safie’s idea of a double consciousness when understanding that the creature and Safie have experienced similar hardships

Ultimately the journeys that Safie and the creature take are very similar. They are both outcasted and cannot become accustomed to the language being spoken in their respective locations. Both the creature and Safie have been abandoned and they are both very unaccustomed to the World entirely. When thinking about Safie not being a colonized subject, perhaps we shall interpret that in the perspective that both the creature and Safie have gone through similar experiences that can be seen as having similarities to colonized subjects. For example the language limitations, and being pressured into assimilating into the new practices and cultures around them, similar to how colonized subjects are forced to do.

Despite the lives of the creature and Safie take different paths, the reason the “creature weeps with Safie” is because he understands that both of them have been dealing with the issues of being colonized. Also allowing the creature to identify with Safie because they are both being portrayed as colonized subjects.

By: Daniel Olmos

 

Bringing the subject of critical race studies brings upon a whole new interpretation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”. Looking at the characters from the novel “Frankenstein” through the lens of the studies of W.E.B. Du Bois and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o ideas of double consciousness and the victim’s internal colonization we are able to further understand them. Primarily focusing on the characters of the creature and Safie. Safie being an adopted member of the De Lacy family and the creature attachment and sympathy for her. There exist a parallel between both pilgrimages and experiences as they are subjects of colonization.

Upon the creature sharing his story to Frankenstein, he exposes the letters that he asserts will give his side of the story. The monster asserts that this will “truth of my tale”, illuminating his journey since he awakens to this new place he has no knowledge of. Safie is a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey which parallels with the creature as they both are in a place which they nothing of. Both having no education have no established social role in society since they do not know the basics communication, “I soon perceived, that although of her own, she neither sounded and appeared to have a language of her own, she was neither understood by nor herself understood the cottagers.” (Shelley 106). W.E.B. Du Bois teaching is illuminated as double consciousness is seen through the lens of Safie as she views herself through the lens cottagers as she is always aware that she is unable to communicate with them. The creature itself is always aware that people will view him as a monster and now holds the stereotype of being dangerous and destructive through his experiences and is now aware that anywhere he appears the people will be quick to judge him.

Furthermore, they both are “left alone, unacquainted” providing an insight into the way society views those who do not assimilate. For them to be heard they must assimilate into this place but must give something in return without being conscious of the price. The monster takes the opportunity to acquire the language when he is in hiding and in watching, “I should make use of the same instructions”. (Shelley 107) They both begin the process of assimilation as the creature begins to see Felix teach Safie a westernized education,“The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney’s ‘Ruins of Empires’”(Shelley 108) Felix and the creature are not aware what is occurring, they are unaware  that in the process of learning a new language they will slowly lose their culture and identity as they will become part of this society. Ngugi Wa Thiong express that Kenyan child for becoming fluent in British English, not in their tribal language, which marks this assimilation to another culture, as they begin to what Ngugi asserts that they will lose their identity and gain an identity that is given to them by the colonizer. Here is where the connection is seen through the lens of Ngugi and the novel “Frankenstein” as Ngugi is underlining that in similar ways the Safie’s and the creature are being assimilated by western ideologies.

Upon the weeping of Safie, the creature joins her. They are able to see that they are products of colonization. They both are strangers in a place they could not even communicate without assimilation to their way of life. Safie cry because here is where they become aware of the process of colonization. The creature shows emotion because he relates himself to her segregation.

-Levit Martinez

By: Leena Beddawi

America has been expanding its laws surrounding refugees and immigrants crossing its borders for decades, the most drastic set of expansions being created after the attack on September 11, 2001. Throughout these border security and law expansions, one thing that never changed is the law granting asylum for any refugee seeking protection from a country which defines a refugee as a “person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, and cannot obtain protection in that country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future ‘on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.’”.

Frankenstein’s creature insists on proving the “truth of my tale” in order to show that there are wildly different perspectives in this world and the means are just as valuable as the ends, how they became who they are, what they overcame to get here, is just as important as their very existence. I could only assume that in giving these letters to Victor, the creature hoped to change his mind about those who he considered being “other”.  One thing we see in many refugee or immigrant story is that they usually perfect models of W. E. B. Du Bois’ double-consciousness.

Double-consciousness is a concept in social philosophy which explains the presence of two apparently unconnected streams of consciousness in one individual, usually having to do with race, ethnicity, or originating country. This is something many refugees go through in order to search for a better life, they learn a whole new language, accustom to another culture, and try to peacefully integrate themselves in a space that is completely foreign to them because this is their only hope.

Safie is a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey, but very much became a citizen of the world in accordance with Felix’s locations. Wherever he went, she wished to follow, and she made that place her home because they were together. I believe the creature’s pride in “learn[ing] from the views of a developed social life, to admire their virtues, and to deprecate the vices of mankind” helped him to empathize with the conquered native Americans and to see himself in the immigrant or refugee status because they each had felt that same sense of double-consciousness (114).

caravan

The president of the United States of America has chosen to demonize, criminalize, and verbally dehumanize the thousands of asylum seekers currently coming towards the border from Central America, most escaping Honduras, which many news organizations call “The World’s Deadliest Country”. Many of these people are young men, women, children, and elderly. Before they enter, they hope to apply as asylum seekers, which should technically aid them in a legal route of asylum. In the U.S., however, the immigration systems are severely out-of-date and meant to delay asylum to refugees for many small reasons, the main of which is just the subjectivity of opinion which goes with who gets asylum and who doesn’t.

I think if we were somehow able to share each individual story from the thousands of asylum seekers and hardworking individuals looking for a better life, searching for any life, we can actually start changing minds of politicians who see them as nothing but invaders. But if the president was presented with individual stories of the humanitarian crisis the refugees have been running from, one would hope that he would welcome those people with open arms, and allow asylum to those who need it.

In Frankenstein, I believe it was best summed up by Safie when describing why she never want to go back to Asia, where she was “allowed only to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill-suited to temper her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and a noble emulation for virtue” (112). This showed not only her desperation to go to another country where she could be herself without constraints, but showed how this alone should be enough to pass through and see if you can make a better life in another country. The very idea of borders exudes a racist, xenophobic ideology which has yet to be updated after many decades of fear mongering anything “other” to us, much like how the creature is treated by everyone they come in contact with, as well. It is no surprise they see themselves in the refugee story since their own double-consciousness must be deafening within themselves.

by Marco Hidalgo

In Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, the creature is an outcast from the rest of society by not being accepted by the way he looks. He is being alienated by everyone with doing so he is on his own and learns about individuals who also have the same outcast problem.

Internal colonization in order to have inequality and discrimination towards another ethnic group. Those affected by internal colonization are often looked at as outsiders or aliens, which are also treated very badly. Safie, a Turkish refugee, has the same problem as the creature which is how society sees refugees and immigrants as outsiders and make them feel not welcomed. I strongly feel like the creature gave Frankenstein the letters by Safie on her life story to help Victor Frankenstein understand the idea on how the creature is feeling alienated by the entire world just because of his appearance, because just like Safie feels  unwelcomed into the place where she hoped to find refuge in, the creature is unwanted and unloved by the entire world because of his appearance. All of these individuals are coming into the states to being a new life for them and their families but now the government/ president is making it very difficult for them to do so.isolation-cartoon-700x300

Strangers

By Jade Graham

The prompt inquires as to why the creature wants his story told through Safie’s letters. The simple answer is because he felt a connection that he hadn’t with anyone else in Shelley’s novel. The creature wants those remaining to understand his story and how he could relate to others. Yet in some ways, Safie (while a minor character) is everything the creature isn’t: alive, beautiful, and embraced by (the Delacey) family. Through her beauty, she is accepted and integrates herself into a good situation. One definitely better than before with her father. Safie becomes a part of a society and culture where the creature could only imagine about. However, once she is exiled much similar to the creature’s situation they find a common ground. Once the creature and Safie are both suffering and homeless, they experience life at its most desperate measures. Exiled and the other cast out, the two desire acceptance and family. Safie only receives this. There are two reasons, that includes beauty and social roles. The creature has neither of these. He is considered ugly and ostracized by other societies because he does not fit in by their standards.

Turkish Girl

Turkish Girl by Karl Briullov

As mentioned before, this falls in line with Safie’s appearance and her status. She is beautiful and has a role. That would be to be a part of a family, marry Felix, and continue that cycle. She’s young, a good age to marry, and already accepted into the family. The best part for Safie is, “remaining in a country where women were allowed to take a risk in society was enchanting to her.” where she could gain freedom through a marriage of Felix whom she truly does love (112). This idea of eagerly wanting to become a part of another society relates to Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s borderland theory. Safie wants to leave her past and culture behind in exchange for a better life in a new society. She and the creature want to pursue a better life and will give it all up because of their past experiences. They want to become a part of a different society and culture where they can have freedom and chances.

Rilee Hoch

The reason Frankenstein’s creature is determined to tell Victor his narrative story through the letters of Safie, a young immigrant woman, is because he wants to make the deep connection between the two creatures. He can recognize that he too, falls into the category of a subaltern and that Safie and him are alike in many of their struggles. He knows all these things, but he wants to tell his story in context of her experience so that Victor too can recognize the immigrant like struggles his monster had to endure. He is trying to wake Victor from deep inside his Patriarchal blindness and expose the plight that he, and other groups considered subaltern, face from those who are not a part of the subaltern. Safie and the creature are both groups that have been oppressed by their surroundings and are breaking free to overthrow that oppression and change the culture, people, or things that have ruled over them.

Anzaldua speaks on barriers, which is a big theme in this part of the novel. We can see that Safie’s father has to get out of the country and find refuge in another, as do Felix and his family. The creature often crosses boarders much easier than Safie does, but neither have any hesitation in traveling across nations for their cause. Both are seeking love shelter and happiness in these journeys. Victor cannot see the pain that he has caused this creature by creating him in a way that he was destined to be an outcast of society and looked upon as a member of “other” rather than a part of “us”. Frankenstein is a colonizer, and his creature is the colony he has created, but he is not a colonized people. He has not only made him into an outcast of society, but he has refused to intercede into his life to control it. Both Safie and the creature are the same in that way, that they are mistreated and then left on their own to seek out their own justice which they find by leaving their oppression behind and going on a boarder crossing journey towards enlightenment.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as well as many other novels/stories critique the postcolonial conditions of our world towards “others.” The creature represents those that are considered different or “others” in a white dominant, capitalist society. In the novel, Safie, the daughter of a Muslim Turkish merchant just wants to feel welcomed, loved, and accepted. Her and the creature very much so have that in common. They also have plenty in common in regards to her father being similar to Victor as well. When forbidden to be with Felix, she and her father have a slight strain in their relationship which also relates to the creature and his relationship with Victor as they are both the father figures for these characters.

The creature embodies immigrants in any country. Lost, confused, unwelcome. Safie traveled to Germany and was an outcast and had to live in hiding. The creature, on the other hand, does not belong in any country and is not a citizen of any society. He cannot wander from places and has to constantly live his life in fear. If he had been a citizen anywhere, I doubt the creature would still fit in due to his appearance. When the creature runs away from Victor, he travels far east to a place that is cold and desolate. The one place he could feel at home. The creature is a slave to Victor as he is his master by controlling his life and such. The creature could easily resemble a slave who was brought to the Western world.

The creature as well as Zainab and Safie shed light on issues of immigration, ethnicity, and foreignness, which are all things these characters and Zainab struggle with. I connected to these stories as an immigrant myself from Somali as I escaped the war with my mother and sisters. Education plays a pivotal role in my life much like Zainab because without it, I probably would not be here. Living in this society as a black, female, Muslim is difficult which is why I relate so much to these characters and their narratives. I no longer wear the head scarf because of my fear of being spit on, hit, and etc like I have been in the past.

-Rahma Kohin