There are numerous outstanding representatives of the post-war American literature, who have produced remarkable works despite the obstacles and difficulties created by the society. Obviously not all writers can influence human views and feelings deeply, create a moving story that would be close to the majority of the audience. However, some novelists stand out against the background of others; they have created the masterpieces decribing real emotions and experiences. Among such writers, the names of Jhumpa Lahiri and Sandra Cisneros deserve special attention. They have received numerous literature awards and are referred to by many as the best modern novelists of the USA. In addition, it is quite interesting that there exists an emotional line unifying these two women and their works regardless the uniqueness of each of them. This connection mostly deals with the style and worldview of Cisneros and Lahiri, which was determined by their multi-cultural origin. Consequently, the works that are written by completely different people depict similar feelings and feature similar details; this was predetermined by the two authors having same obstacles and perspectives in life.
Among the works that can demonstrate the common features of the writers, one should note Cisneros’s“Woman Hollering Creek” and Lahiri’s “The Third and Final Continent.” They both not only evoke sympathy of the readers but appear to be extremely realistic and pathetic. A comparison of details of these short stories can show their similarities even though they are creations of different cultures – Cisneros is of Hispanic origin, and Lahiri is Indian (Showalter). These two contemporary novelists tend to emphasize their contributions and closeness to the American culture, not “their distance or alienation from it” (Showalter). These feelings and beliefs can be traced in all their writings including the above-mentioned short stories.
Considering Cisneros’s works and her “Woman Hollering Creek,”one cannot but note that the theme of femininity and romanticism is very close to her. The main heroine of the story believed that “the great love of one’s life” is the most important for everyone (Cisneros 4). However, in reality, the life of Cleofilas became “sadder and sadder with each episode” like in the movies (Cisneros 7). The mood of the story is rather pessimistic since it deals with the failing relationship of the protagonist. Therefore, it becomes obvious that the author depicts her own views on relations and love in the story. This fact lets the ordinary readers trace the reflection of the reality, and therefore, makes them interested in the real-fictional world of the heroine. The story not only raises a problem topical for the American society but introduces the readers to the world of victims of domestic violence and allows them to experience all the bitterness and pain caused by this problem. They get to know about Cleofilas’s life, about her desperate hope and isolation. The choice of the settings, events and type of narration creates a complex image of the “fictional” world of the heroine and reflects the real one. Cisneros reminds people not only about the difficulties which immigrants and women face but also about inherent human qualities, which help people to endure all cruelties of life. The question in the end of the story “If we don't help her, who will?” should motivate the readers to make the world better and be compassionate and helpful to each other (Cisneros 20). At the same time, Cisneros resonates that delay of decisions can also become pernicious, and inactivity is equal to hurting someone on purpose. It is important for each person to become more caring and sympathizing with the problems of others.
As well as the previous story, Lahiri’s “The Third and Final Continent”cannot leave the readers indifferent to the fate of the protagonist. Being a daughter of immigrants from India, Lahiri felt a part of the American society and could not stay detached from the sufferings of both native Americans and immigrants. However, considering the origin of Lahiri, the reader perceives the story as one that refers to the biographical facts about the members of her family. The plot is based on the story of an immigrant, for whom the difference between the cultural values of the homeland and “final continent” brings numerous challenges, struggles, and anxieties. The exceptional feeling created by the usage of the plain language and facts from the author’s biography makes the audience feel the atmosphere of the real life throughout the story. Usage of personal experiences and a choice of an immigrant narrator of the story are common for both Lahiri and Cisneros and enable them to convey their messages to the readers. The need for adjustment and the loneliness of the man who left his home are deeply intertwined with the worries of the protagonist’s wife brought up to “cook, knit, embroider, sketch landscapes and recite poems by Tagore” (Lahiri 183). The main themes of the story are the difficulties of finding one’s identity in an alien environment and the distance not only between the continents but between the inhabitants of the American continent because of their origin and cultural affiliation. The author mentions that even the room rent could depend on being “boys from Harvard or Tech” (Lahiri 182). In addition, the fact that the immigrant from India had to talk in a way which would please the elderly American woman implies the higher social position of the “native” Americans compared to the first or second generation of the immigrants.
To summarize, the works of Lahiri and Cisneros obviously have some features that can gain them a status of outsiders in the modern American literature. Depiction of the real world with real people on the basis of the real multi-cultural experience is one of the main features unifying the representatives of Hispanic American and Indian cultures. The emotional style of both writers encourages awareness and understanding among the majority of Americans.
- Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek. London:Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2004. 5-20. Print.
- Lahiri, Jhumpa. “The Third and Final Continent.” Interpreter of Maladies. Houghton: Mariner Books, 1999. 179-190. Print.
- Showalter, Elaine. “The Female Frontier”. The Guardian. 9 May 2009. Web. 1 Oct. 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/may/09/female-novelists-usa>