Category: Tales of Immigration (10/31)


The Creature’s tale is in many ways Safie’s. Watching the de Lacey family interact is largely how the Creature is socialized to see gender, power dynamics, acceptance, and most importantly truth. His truth specifically. The voyeuristic education the Creature participates in teaches him that the same constraints that apply to Safie apply to him. As someone at an educational disadvantage the Creature must learn a new language like Safie in order to at least be closer to being at the same level. Safie and the Creature both are not native to this language or the culture associated with it so as they are educated they do not take everything with a grain of salt. The Creature’s serious reading of Paradise Lost is a prime example of taking seriously something part of a culture that isn’t as important as an outsider may see it. Immigrants some times believe in certain stereotypes of the country they are immigrating to because of the way these countries choose to portray themselves as and then ultimately come to the realization that this portrayal is a lie. This creates double-consciousness because the immigrants now experience themselves through their own eyes and the eyes of the country they are immigrating to because even if the portrayal is incorrect there will be people who make it seem as if it’s an accurate one.

Here is where the Creature fails to realize double-consciousness exists. He presents someone else’s story as a sort of explanation for his own and in doing so is not only seeing himself through his own eyes but also through the eyes of Safie. Someone who recognizes that she now can see herself through multiple perspectives. Perhaps if the Creature had realized that double-consciousness existed he would not have chosen to use her letters as an explanation for his own life and would have written his own. Instead of using someone else’s story of migration and the life changing moments to make his own story more credible he would have relied on his own storytelling more.

By Diana Lara

Outcasts

By Maya Carranza

In Frankenstein by Marie Shelley, the creature faces reality as many people treat him poorly and is seen as an outcast because he is different. Due to the fact that he looks so unlike everyone else and is a “monster”, the creature is alienated and becomes an outsider. Thus, the creature sets off into the world where he learns about others that have been discriminated and have been shut out by society.

Internal colonization was created in order to have inequality and discrimination against certain ethnic groups over others. Those affected by internal colonization are often seen as unwelcome aliens and are treated differently. Safie, a Turkish refugee, is illustrated in the same heartbreaking way as the creature in which society sees refugees or immigrants as outsiders and aliens. The creature and Safie form a relationship and connect as they are both viewed as outcasts and as different. This connects to today’s society as “non-white” people are seen as people that don’t belong in the U.S. and are treated unequally. The monster decides to give the letters written by Safie in order to prove the “truth” about the oppression the creature, Safie, and others like them face.

discrimination

We know that the Creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a victim of isolation and neglect because of the difference in his appearance. When given the chance to final tell his story to his creator, the Creature mentions a significant individual by the name of Safie, an Arabian migrant from Turkey of which was welcomed into the DeLacey family. He explains to Victor that in giving him letters Safie wrote to Felix, he “[would] prove the truth of [his] tale” (p.111). But what exactly did the Creature mean when saying this?

Safie, like the Creature, is “different” in the sense that she is a migrant who inhabits a new country of which she knows nothing about. However, this difference is not so much an obstacle in her case as it is a sort of advantage; at least in comparison to the Creature. See, Safie although entirely unlike the DeLacey family in race, language, and culture, is still accepted into their home and “her presence diffused gladness through the cottage, dispelling their sorrow as the sun dissipates the morning mists” (p.106). Yet the Creature is forced to live in hiding, only observing the family from afar because his differences will not result in a warm acceptance rather pure reject. This is what the Creature intends to explain to his creator in giving him Safie’s letters. Victor had already once abandoned him due to the horror he saw in his own “monstrosity”. Now that the Creature was given the chance to explain his side of the story, there is a chance that Victor will refuse to believe anything he has to say; hence Safie’s letters. Aside from this, Safie’s story also allows the Creature to shine light on the loneliness he had to endure because of the initial rejection Victor subjected him to which ultimately lead to all of humanity’s neglection to accept him despite his differences.

With all of this in mind, the Creature can be seen possessing a sort of double-consciousness, an idea proposed by W.E.B DuBois, of which is described as “a sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others. Because the Creature was forced to live a life of observation rather than interaction, he constantly pondered the aspects of himself that made him different in the eyes of humanity. When the DeLacey family began to teach Safie their language and history, the Creature used it as instruction as well. This lead to him learning more about himself, but in the eyes of those he so intently watched day and night. One thing that he learned was that of mans possessions and they made man respectable, esteemed by his peers, and how if he had no possesions, “he was considered a vagabond and a slave” (p.109). In gaining this knowledge, the Creature asked himself “And what [am] I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property” (p.109). It was in learning all that was taught to Safie that the Creature became aware of what he really was; at least in humanities perspective.

-Juanita Espinoza

 

By: Carmen Ibarra

I strongly feel like the creature gave Frankenstein the letters by Safie on her life story to help Victor Frankenstein get a little sense of 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. And sadly enough to say,  many people who are trying to seek asylum are getting rejected, turned away, and even killed. People are coming into the states in hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their children, but the president and all these laws and regulations are making it extremely difficult for them to do so. It breaks my heart to see all the people trying to find refuge in another state yet their getting turned down and even killed or placed into jails. This also frustrates me because as the president is gaining more power white people are accentuating their privilege and we see this in the news today, white cops are killing people of color for no reason and white people are getting away with crimes that people of color would get killed for. Everything is so unfair when your skin color is darker than a white person or you don’t look similar to them.

 

Bianca Lopez Munoz

Safie’s tale is not only about her uncertainty and rejection but also her determination. “The prospect of marrying a Christian and remaining in a country where women were allowed to take a rank in society, was enchanting to her” (112). Because of her mother, Safie is not only curious about the world beyond her servitude, but she also wishes and aspires for a better situation than she is currently at. The same sort of aspirations go for Safie’s father, though shady, he does aspire to be in a better place than incarcerated. Both these individuals are criminalized and rejected by Western society because they are foreigners. Felix sees the injustice they experience and decides to help. The creature, who has been rejected by humanity this whole time, craves acceptance and he seeks that acceptance in Victor. The creature sees Victor as a possible gateway for acceptance and stability in his nomadic life.

The borderlands that Gloria E. Anzaldúa talks about are invisible that are placed on individuals wether they be language barriers or geographical border lines. Safie faced a language barrier with Felix and physical barriers while moving through different countries. Similarly, the creature also faced language barriers as well as geographical barriers, they climbed mountains and walk through forests with not much knowledge of the area! Safie’s mother was a christian arab and her father was not. This, added to her connection with Felix, adds to her ‘creolization’ or the mixing of her culture with Felix’s and is some form of mestizaje. The creature is a mix of different individual’s body parts, as well as what they learned through reading and observing humanity so that in itself is a form of mixing of perspectives.

Samantha Shapiro

As the creature insists on “prov[ing] the truth of [its] tale,” the intent behind his actions in doing so shows that he has a doubt in his own ability in his language in conveying the “substance of them” to others (111). Language, as noted by Gloria Anzaldúa, is form of identity, woven into a person’s existence and being. In her writings on “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” she asserts that “ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity” – a person is their own language. This sentiment is supported in Frankenstein when the creature recalls his own discovery of language, “a discovery of still greater moment” which allowed others to communicate “their experiences and feelings to one another” (102). The creation slowly developed language from the cottagers, and also through Safie, a Turkish Christian woman and “immigrant” with her own struggles to learn the language of those around her. Her own language ties her to herself as well as her own past she tries to escape from, and shared experiences with Felix and his family.

Cup of Coffee, 1858 – Amadeo Preziosi

She had a “language of her own, she was not understood by, nor herself understood, the cottagers” (106). This shows similarity to the creature in its own being. It itself is a creature of its own, not understood by, nor itself understood by all of those around him. However, through a parallel learning process, both begin to develop language, or a more anglicized, projected self through the development of a common language.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, English wife to Turkish Ambassador

As the creature gains a sense of self from others, his wonder became plagued with doubt as he gained knowledge. He determined that he wasn’t even considered within the same nature as mankind, due to his forced isolation from others and rejection. His own self is a cause for rejection, and he hides from the cottagers, trying hard to gain a piece of them he can share. Because of how he is physically constituted throughout the novel, whether through cadavers’ body parts by Victor, or through the development of his language from the De Lacey’s, there’s a genuine part of him that wants to be a part of something he cannot fully be, thus establishes a sense of doubt and uncertainty. With the letters written by Safie, a parallel figure to the creature, she is something he isn’t – a human, accepted by others and a vital player in his own history and self. As he has doubts in his own being, her own letters, her language being conveyed to Victor is a sort of stability the creation lacks due to his own nature and creation.

The creature decides to prove the truth of his tale by providing Safie’s letters because he is able to relate to her. Not only does he identify with Safie but he has the letters to disarm Victor and Walton. The letters are a sort of “holy relic” if you will. They cause the audience and Victor to see the creature in another light. Safie is a figurative martyr whose life in France was killed due to her father’s political positions. It is a new Safie that lives in Turkey, that crossed the border into hiding. Dying or going through unthinkable situations elevates a person/ creature even to their enemies. The letter is a truth, a very strategic truth one. The creature uses the letters to go through white society to shield the creature from the hate and violence that has swelled up about the creature due to its appearance. The letters put the folks at ease, it lets them see the creature as sort of human and similar to them. They can feel for Safie because she’s like them and has gone through such a battle, therefore they can identify with the creature, because they’re able to sympathize for Safie. Safie is still a character that the modern audience can sympathize with and even empathize for because there are issues in Frankenstein that still have not been resolved. The creature is taught by Safie, meaning he learns what she wants the creature to know. She has taught the creature about her, so now the creature has a part of her that he relates to. The creature has to go through many physical and metaphorical barriers in its lifetime as many of us will. We must pass through barriers because we create them as a society and/or we allow them to hold us back.

  • Andres Quezada

In lecture, we discussed how the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley might not be a story about a creature coming to life, but something deeper than that. It is a story about immigration and border crossing. The creature and Safie, a Muslim Arab migrant from Turkey, have a lot of things in common like not knowing the language that the cottagers speak, not knowing how the society/lifestyle of the people and trying to belong in this new place. W.E.B Du Bois talks about “double consciousness”, as “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” This idea is that we are never really looking at ourselves through our own perspectives but the perspective of a white person. By doing this we are belittling ourself and making ourselves feel less than what we truly are and are creating two identities for ourselves.

The creature and Safie are both two lost souls in this cruel world that has obstacles for them to face. Safie is a female which makes life complicated because of gender differences, women are thought as less than men. The creature is its own species which makes it difficult for him to belong in a group because there is no one like him. Safie and the creature are immigrants to their new worlds and have to cross borders to feel like they belong into this world. Safie has to learn a new language to communicate with Felix and his family. The creature benefits from these lessons because he self-teaches himself the language. Many immigrants in today’s world have to go to classes to learn English or teach themselves because they understand that without being able to speak English it holds them back from many opportunities.

The creature insists in proving “the truth of my tale” by giving Victor a copy of letters by Safie because he does not want Victor to white-wash his story. The creature wants the world to know his true story from his perspective and not from the perspective of Victor. Victor will dehumanize the creature and make him seem dangerous when in reality the creature was a foreigner into the place where he was brought to life. Victor will make the story about himself and how he felt threatened by the creature when all the creature really wanted was to be accepted and loved. The creature relates to Safie and her struggles in this new world and gives Victors her letters as proof of the things he had to overcome. The creature is an immigrant in this story and wants his story (as an immigrant) to be told instead of it being told by a white man, just like how all our history is told by the white man’s perspective. We never rarely hear the side of the minority because everything is white-washed in history and life.

-Marycarmen Nieto

In Frankenstein, we as the readers see the constant persecution that the creature is forced to endure, most resulting in some type of isolation because of the way he looks. As we learn more about Safie and her history, two pieces of the same puzzle instantly fall into place.

We are not able to see Safie for long in the novel, yet her short appearance does not go unnoticed. In fact, we can see a depressing and obvious contrast between her and the creature; while the creature is exiled by his own master and has no one to love him, Safie is warmly welcomed into the De Lacey family with open arms after being exiled. Because of Safie’s beauty, she is able to integrate herself into this new society, while the creature is stuck living alone in the wilderness, cursed to watch from afar.

The reason why the creature insisted on proving “the truth of [his] tale” is because he wanted Victor to see how Safie was affected by other’s kindness, and how this entire story could’ve ended differently if only Victor had welcomed his creation into this new, unfamiliar world, instead of disgracing him to isolation for all of eternity. A notable point in the novel was when Safie and the creature were both learning the same language at the same time, showing that they both have the intelligence to understand complex concepts; yet that doesn’t seem to matter, since people can judge you based on your looks, right?

Sabrina Vazquez

With everything that has been happening lately, it seems that more and more “the other”, is an issue being brought forward increasingly. In the novel this could be seen in how the creature feels or seems to not have a sense of self. Due to the fact that it is not accepted in society, it is exiled, and despairs from not being understood. Safie, and Felix experience similar instances, having to return or stay in a place that does not reflect their values or is best self-interests. The creature in their (Safie, her father, Felix,) situations found common ground, it was able to empathize with their struggles, since expulsion was something the monster knew all too well.

When Safie wrote, “They remained confined for five months before the trial took place; the result of which deprived them of their fortune, and condemned them to a perpetual exile from their native country” (113). It brought the novel into the 21st century, while simultaneously making a connection to the creature’s life. This is a common story that can be heard of from refugees and immigrants that flee their country with nothing; hoping to find something better than they left behind. Frankenstein’s creature in the same manner, was hidden away and when the town as well as its creator ‘met’ it, they condemned it. The creature fled once it had been all but shunned from the only place it had known in search of something better.

As to why the creature was intent on showing those letters, it was to demonstrate physical evidence of a human connection. Immigrants, refugees and I would argue that most human beings conjugate with others that they can form bonds with. The creature clung to the evidence of that connection, and through Safie’s story expressed the consequences of ostracism. It provided a platform to the creature to expose the cruelty of people in rejecting people from taking part in society. Sharing stories is a way to expose the unfairness of the world, and to lend comprehension in order to break down the barriers of preconceived notions; much like the creature attempted to do so here.