PJAS 15 Autumn-3

Ingrida Egle Žindžiuviene
Going to Extremes: Post-9/11 Discrimination in Fiction
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 15 (Autumn 2021), pp. 227-239

Abstract: The aim of the article is to discuss the representation of discrimination and polarization of the American society after the events of 9/11 in Laila Halaby’s novel Once in a Promised Land (2007). The novel presents the point of view of “the Other” and focuses on the analysis of the antagonistic processes in the American society and their outcomes in the lives of ordinary citizens, accused of being “the Other.” The article examines the deterioration of beliefs and values and the “death” of the American Dream. Based on the fundamental theory of Trauma Studies, the article discusses the issues of personal and collective trauma and their representation in Laila Halaby’s novel. Collective traumas may unify or polarize the society–both aspects have had negative outcomes in the USA. Increased patriotism and solidarity were particularly prominent during the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and resulted in the discrimination and polarization of the society, the anger being directed at Muslim communities. The first days of the aftermath marked the start of antagonism on different levels: despite being US citizens, representatives of the Muslim communities experienced harsh reactions in their neighborhoods, jobs, social spheres, etc. For many of those “on the other side” these processes meant the end of their normal lives and dreams. The article examines both the informational and empathic approach used by the author of the novel to disclose irreparable processes that may happen in any society.

Keywords: contemporary American fiction, September 11, discrimination, American society

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.15/2/2021.03

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