English Final Exam: There There by Orange Tommy
The book, There There is a 2018 contemporary work of art in American fiction by Arapaho and Cheyenne author Orange. The text was set in the present-day Oakland, California. The story is about a group of twelve Native American characters who strive through disparage because of their race. The economic and social situation of Oakland is not an easy one as it brings with it other issues such as mental health problem, alcohol and narcotic abuse, chronic unemployment and other typical challenges in a marginalized community. Due to the tension in the Native American community, has made people live in fear. The novel’s focus is on the problems and setbacks that the Native American people face when it comes to forming their identities as neocolonialists threaten the country’s sovereignty. Looking at the major themes in the novels, shows that there are similarities as in W.E.B. DuBois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings”.
The novel’s accounts about the historical survival of the Native American genocide as well as subjugation by white supremacists provides the theme about oppression of race (Orange 45). The book shows how the sinister force of white nationalism has taken the place of self-interested European settlers of the colonial era. Today, the issue of racism is in the violence against Native American and made to appear as is if it is the normal public consciousness by corporations and other government agencies such as the police. However, despite hiding under these forces, it is evident that their major drive is racism.
In the novel, there is a back and forth between second and third character as they struggle to live in Oakland. Blue is the first character who is a woman full of compassion (Orange 13). She comes from an abusive relation where she had stayed for years before walking out on her partner. The author also examines the life of Thomas who is janitor that loses his Job as a result of alcohol use. Due to his poverty state and lack of social support, he struggles to recover but disagrees with his white mother and Native American father. All this while, he faces challenges due to his racial hybridity (Orange 14). Thomas comes from a family that has taste of privilege due to his white mother and shamanic father. As a result, he represents both sides of race and he struggles with the urge to hold on to the past. Due to his status, he struggles with belonging because he is ‘’both and neither’’ as the same time (Orange 15).
The issue of race s dominant in the novel because the author focusses on the challenges of the main characters which implore, issues to do with their race (Orange 26) Despite being in a modern social setting, it is evident that race is still a prevalent issue and even those that come from mixed families, suffer as well with their identity. It appears that you either have to belong to the white race or else, anyone else outside that spectrum goes through discrimination. An examination of all the characters of There There shows that they question their identity in one way or another. Take, for example, as a teenager, Orvil Red Feather tries to Google the meaning of ‘’Real Indian.’’(Orange 55) One can see the depth of cultural confusion in a scene where he tries on his ancestors on tribal gear and goes in front of a mirror. However, it does not give him the validation that he seeks because what he sees in the reflection is a fake copy of his illusion of a ‘’real Indian.’’ Another boy, Calvin Johnson who does not find any meaning in his Native American Identity. He prefers to view himself as just a resident of Oakland (Orange 77). On the other hand, Tony Loneman, a young boy whose father struggles with alcohol addiction, is unable to find employment. There is a father, Octavio Gomez, who is suffering after his family- wife and kids perish following a drunk driving accident. Even those few characters in the book who have decided to follow the best mentors they know, still struggle. For example, one gets a degree in Native American studies and is still not favorable in the job market. Another person, just as life was falling into place, their daughter taker her life. All these problems reflect on the struggles of people of color when it comes to both social and economic advantage. Apart from struggling with acceptance, they are also economically challenged.
In the final scene of the book, all the characters have formed a group together so that they can rob people. They attack a powpow and demand their money to pay off their drug leader. The robbery does not go through but the author sways away from the optimistic illusion about the state of affair in the Native American people (Orange 134). Despite the fact that American society has made major strides in the long arc of history, There There reveals an emotional depth as well as contemporary realism when it comes to people of the marginalized race. Ironically, the society believes that the race has gone through constant progress.
The dominant theme in There There is race and this also reflects in W.E.B. DuBois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings”. Like in Orange’s There There, there is the issue of struggling with identity which stems from the fact that the characters feel lesser due to their identity. In Du Bois, the question that the white people are eager to ask is, ‘’How does it feel to be a problem?’’ (Du Bois 7). Despite the fact that nobody has ever asked this question directly, it is obvious that they want to know. The first realization for DuBois that he was a ‘problem’’, is when he was just in elementary. At this stage, most young boys are eager to explore the play world and socialize but people like Du Bois are struggling with identity because of their race. After Du Bois attended an integrated school in Massachusetts, a new students had enrolled. They were supposed to share cards as part of school work. However, a girl refused to accept Du Bois’ card and made him realize that he as different.
However, he decided to dedicate himself to being better that other white students to feel adequate. Instead of sitting by himself and feel disadvantaged due to the injustices of the Veil, he made a deliberate decision to make educate his amor towards empowering himself (Du Bois 10). Like in There There the character Orvil feather also questions his place in the society as a Native American by google what it means to be one. Although Du Bois and Feathers comes from different communities, the society still treats them different because they see their race as lesser. Evidently, this puts a toll on them and shapes the path their take towards the people they want to become in their lives.
Throughout the first chapter, Du Bois keeps struggling with himself and asks God why he chose to make him a problem (Du Bois 8). It is important to note that the struggles of the characters of There There and “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” are due to racism. The American society seem to root is issues of race to determine superiority. Du Bois does not understand why God created black people in the shadow of all races. On the other hand, Feathers does not seem to figure out what it means to be a Native American. All these questions would be non-issue if racism did not prevail. According to Du Bois, a Negro is like a seventh son (Du Bois 9) who has no specific conscious and can only see himself through others. However, looking at how both authors, Orange and Du Bois examine the issue of race, color is not only a problem but a symbol of struggle. That is why despite being successful, racism will still follow through ought someone’s life.
The theme of racism in both books helps the reader to understand that the characters are not only attempting to reach their identity after years of captivity, but also trying to bring together two conflicting identities. For example, in There There, the character Thomas struggles to identify himself due to his hybridity and feels like he does not really belong. According to Dubois, the United States was not comfortable that the newly freed black people were out there and that they would Africanize America. However, this is just an insecurity because the goals was not to take over but to be part of the society. On the other hand, the issue about race in Orange’s novel is that the white supremacists do not want to acknowledge Native Americans as reals citizens. the problem of race stems from the fact that the white people are not comfortable with letting other races thrive. They relies on marginalization and discrimination to make other races seem inadequate.
Orange’s and Du Bois novel analyze the real problem that breeds racism-insecurity. Analysis of Orange’s book shows that the characters only want to fit in the only homeland that they know- the Unites States. In the contemporary society, the expectations are to have inclusivity despite race. In Du Bois’ book, following the emancipation, the white people began to see the strengths of the black people as weaknesses. The same case apples in There There where American nativity was looked down upon as something to be ashamed. In Orange’s novel, reflects Du Bois book and introduces the readers into the status of the how people of color in the modern day United States. These people do not live just as Native Americans or black men, but as an intersection of identities. The historical process of emancipation made these issues even bigger and instead of providing opportunities to assimilate, discrimination became prevalent. For one to understand these issues, both authors are pointing at the need to create freedom and liberty of marginalized people. The examination of There There explores the struggles of being looked upon as a lesser person due to skin color, and Du Bois projects this issue in his works by providing his experiences as a black person.
DuBois, William Edward Burghartd. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings” from Souls of Black Folk.” WEB Du Bois A Reader (1903): 28-33.
Orange, Tommy. There there: A novel. Knopf, 2018.
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