Tag Archive: immigration


“Las Llamas Que Torturan”

by Isaac Gallegos Rodriguez

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“Las Llamas Que Torturan”

Our visage, emaciated

Hollow, a husk, an empty shell

Synthesized – production of our infernal hell

Our humanitarian claims rejected

Our intrinsic values, always contested

Detested, I feel detested

Who am I? A hijacked narrative

Corrupted, misconstrued

It was politically imperative

Lock the gates, erect the border, deny the refugee their refuge

Project onto me your perspective, I am an empty vessel

Deprive me of my dream, a dream of warmth and love

a place for my weary, burdened, soul to nestle

I live the life of a “criminal” but like a human, I dream

please do not take that away too,

fresh is my wound’s suture and seam.

I stole the torch from Lady Liberty, to light the way

I have offended thee? You have made me lose my way!

Shoot me in the head, and throw me away –

maybe in the afterlife, all borders are frayed.

Explanation:

“I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames”- The Creature (Shelley, 189)

My creative writing took the form of a poem because I wished to challenge my creative capabilities. My poem, which I titled Las Llamas Que Torturan (The Flames That Torture), is focused on the quoted text, and the ending of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, while also attempting to incorporate themes of our contemporary society and the ongoing struggles of immigrants. As a Mexican-American, I have experienced secondhand how our current political ideologies influence our nation’s tolerance over minorities and ethnic groups, and I attempted to project this ethnic study perspective, as well as utilizing Anzaldua’s race perspective.

The poem initiates in an ambiguous and nonspecific way, and this is visibly seen by the lack of a realized narrator (until the 7th line, and yet we still aren’t given a name). In fact, a narrator is never introduced in this text, because of the fact that I intentionally tried to minimize the presence of a speaker. This is a greater attempt to replicate the Creature’s validity in the civilized world (or lack thereof). However, instead of the Creature being in my poem, it is the Latino immigrants. This effect of ambiguity creates a sense of solidarity, through a collective experience of struggles in the United States. And with specifically chosen words (e.g., emaciated, contested, detested, etc.) I also mimic the tone of the Creature (as he describes himself in the novel). Overall, my poem is an adapted version of the Creature’s identity throughout the novel, and through this specific action I apply the Frankenstein myth into our modern times, and onto the struggles of Latino immigrants. The greater effect that may be achieved, through this poem, is a specific social criticism/commentary on the volatile immigrant policies, issued by our current presidency, that actively target our immigrant communities. Furthermore, I created the art piece above to represent the struggles, through a more visual medium. The image depicts a despondent-looking female, on fire. She represents the Latino immigrant. Furthermore, with the use of the color blue, it represents the Latino community’s internal representations of themselves: they are wretched (much like the Creature) because of how the United States projects inaccurate and discriminatory narratives/perspectives onto them. These may be misconceptions, however, even abstract things like ideas have negative implications. The fire engulfing the woman can attempt to further imitate the Creature and their “funeral pile”, yet in this situation, we as a people do not “ascend our funeral pile triumphantly” — we are subjected to it involuntarily. We do not want our identities to be ‘killed’ with misconceptions and politically-motivated attacks on our genuine narratives of struggle, but the sociopolitical institutions that surround us do — and as a people, we have to continue to claim our rights and validate our existence, because unlike the Creature, we are not alone. And this small difference is monstrous in importance.

 

 

 

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Love Hurts

Rilee Hoch

Victor’s Creature spoke, “Let me tell you the story of a young foreign girl and a poor family, whom I came across during my journey through the USA. Then, perhaps you will understand how I came to feel emotion and see why I hope you will simply leave me to suffer this life alone in the wilderness.”

So Victor replied, “I will entertain you, please go ahead and tell your tale.”

The Creature began saying, “I had stumbled upon a poor neighborhood in America and taken to watching one poor family from a small shack near their home. One cold morning Felix looked more desolate than ever. He grasped his phone with white knuckles as he paced around the cottage. He allowed a few tears to escape, but quickly wiped them away. He eventually became so upset he threw his phone outside onto the concrete. I leapt out of my hiding place and grabbed the phone off the ground. As I inspected the device I discovered that the screen was cracked but the words were still legible. I had slowly learned how to use technology from observing Felix and his sister Agatha, so I was able to determine what information the phone contained. Felix was deeply in love with a woman named Safie who lived in a foreign nation called Turkey. He had gone there to work, and when he saw Safie walking along with her father on the street he quickly fell in love. Sadly he had to return to the States and Safie’s father would not approve of their marriage. Safie then spent over a year trying to get a visa so she could legally immigrate to the United States and be with Felix, but just as all her paperwork was to be finalized the president decided to tighten the immigration policies. She started to gather up funds to pay someone bring her over illegally. Her father found out about her secret plans to run away to the States and he immediately gave her away to be married. With assistance from a foreign help group, Safie escaped from the arranged marriage and entered the country. However, soon after she settled down with her lover an organization named ICE began separating friends and family all over the country, and Safie was quickly taken away from Felix. He had been actively communicating with her over the phone through social media and texts, which I discovered on his phone. When Safie stopped responding and posting, Felix asked a close friend to inquire about her whereabouts. Felix had been reading a text from his friend, who had managed to locate Safie. She had been arrested at a protest, and then sentenced to spend time in prison. After getting into a fight with the guards, Safie had been wrongfully beaten to death. Their story of failed love has opened my eyes to a life of isolation from humanity, and the immigration policies Safie had fought so strongly against showed me the true cruelty of this world”. The creature then produced Felix’s phone and handed it to Victor with a melancholy expression.

To the Publisher:

I decided to reimagine Felix and Safie’s love story in a manner opposite to the original text. In the original text of Frankenstein Safie and Felix overcome all the difficulties that cross their path. You can call me a pessimist, but that seems improbable, so to make it more realistic I applied a commentary on modern gender roles and our current immigration policy. This is a version of the same story, but one in which the ending is tragic and instead of learning of love and happiness the Creature is exposed to the cruel reality of our modern world. In contrast to the ease of her border crossing shown in the original text, crossing the United States border would be more difficult for Safie. I wanted to showcase how immigrants in the United States, whether legal or illegal, face immense discrimination from not only the people but from our justice system as well. I chose to create the accompanying Instagram posts written by Safie because in the original text the Creature produces letters as proof of Safie and Felix’s story. However, letters are old fashioned and most members of our modern society communicate via text or forms of social media. Another contrast is the character of Safie, in my version she is a strong-willed feminist and social activist, rather than a meek girl seeking her validation from Felix. The only theme I desired to remain the same between my version of Frankenstein and the original text was the deep and passionate love Felix and Safie feel for each other. The Creatures attitude towards his future still changes after seeing the happy couple. Yet, instead of developing a desire for a female companion he is scared by the events and wants live in isolation away from the horrors of humanity. Overall their love will have opposing outcomes, and thus affect the Creature and Victor in different ways, but for better or worse love remains at the center of the story. 

Comforting Relations

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Tania De Lira-Miranda

Image result for traveling passport

Though it may not seem like it at first glance, Frankenstein in a novel in which the theme of (im)migrants plays an important, yet small, role. Though the DeLacey Family, which consists of Agatha, Felix, and Mr. DeLacey, and Safie only appear in the novel for a few chapters, the characters leave a profound impact on the creature.

It is by watching the DeLacey Family that the creature comes to learn about a lot of things. It learns about class, “a considerable period elapsed before I discovered one of the causes of the uneasiness of this amiable family; it was poverty: and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree,” sympathy, “I had been accustomed, during the night, to steal a part of their store for my own consumption; but when I found that in doing this I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained, and satisfied myself with berries, nuts, and roots, which I gathered from a neighboring wood,” and of compassion, “I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labours. I found that the youth spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire, and during the night I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days.” But virtues are not the only thing that the creature learns from the family as it is through them that he learns about human relationships. By watching the three, the creature learns about how family relationship work; it sees how much Flix and Agatha care for their father as he states that “nothing could exceed the love and respect which the younger cottagers exhibited towards their venerable companion. They performed towards him every little office of affection and duty with gentleness; and he rewarded them with his benevolent smiles.” He learns about kindness as he sees Felix wake up before his father and Agatha to clear the snow from the path, gather wood, and bring drinking water. It is due to watching them that the creature learns to speak their language.

And this learning continues when Safie arrives at the DeLacey’s home. When she begins to live in the house, the creature learns about how she came to meet the DeLacey’s as “The father of Safie…was a Turkish merchant…[who] became obnoxious to the government. He was seized and cast into prison the very day that Safie arrived from Constantinople to join him. He was tried and condemned to death” which caused Felix to try to help him which is where he met Safie and fell in love with her which caused her father “to secure him more entirely in his interests by the promise of her hand in marriage so soon as he should be conveyed to a place of safety.” It is due to the Safie’s tale of the circumstances that lead her to meet the DeLacey’s that the creature learned that, just like Safie, he was an other. When Safie first arrived at the DeLacey’s home, she does not know how to speak the language that Felix and his family does which causes her to be “neither understood by, or herself understood, [by] the cottagers.” So by not knowing the language of the DeLacey’s, a barrier comes to form between them as she is not able to talk to the family, causing her to be different. It is because Safie wants to bond with the family and not be different/an other to them that she plays the guitar: to communicate through music.

The reason why the creature provides Safie’s letters when trying to provide “the truth of [his] tale” is because it sees itself in her. Just as the creature feels different from Victor and any other human being, Safie was different from the DeLacey’s as she did not speak their language and was from another country. Both Safie and the creature are not like those around them. They both did not know the language of the country they were in and they are not originally from there, though technically this could be argued for the creature. Both the creature and Safie try to integrate to the country’s culture, only one of them succeeds, Safie, which shows the creature that it is an outsider even to the outsiders. By giving Victor Safie’s letters, the creature wants Victor to see how hard life is to immigrants, compared to Victor who is a white man. The creature wants Victor to see the injustice that both Safie and it face because of the life they were given/born into. The letters show the struggles that Safie went through in order to be accepted and the creature wants to show Victor that it too is going through struggles in order to be accepted