Senior Honors Project
This paper demonstrates the connection between multi-cultural literature and international relations through the analysis of three late twenty-first century novels and their interaction with global politics, specifically following World War II. Within the context of the Cold War, the United States pursued control over foreign nations in order to contain communism, a desire that pushed the US to become a global superpower and a neo-imperialist state. I assert that Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony (1977), Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast (1981), and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible (1998) discuss and critique American neo-imperialism. Kingsolver’s key contribution to our understanding of neo-imperialism is a discourse on gender, in which women must recognize the issues of neo-imperialism, faults embodied by the primary male character. Theroux personifies neo-imperialism as environmentally destructive American male inventor. He thus points out the relationship between industrialization and neo-imperialism, suggesting that the sustainable lifestyle of the natives is preferable. Silko’s text is the most complex in that neo-imperialism is not personified by one character, but by an omnipresent force. Ceremony helps us recognize that neo-imperialism cannot be blamed on one group: rather, in order to overcome neo-imperialism, we must move past essentialist divisions and recognize the sweeping effects of neo-imperialist ideology.
Becker, Lindsey A., "“As Wide as the World”: Examining and Overcoming American Neo-Imperialism in Three Novels" (2012). Antonian Scholars Honors Program. 10.