The Life Of Salt By Monique Truong, Exile Essays

2419 Words Nov 10th, 2016 10 Pages
In exploring such a poignant topic as exile, one must first examine the group of people most likely to be subjected to exile. Often, this group tends to be the socially observed “other.” What an other is can change drastically depending on who is defining it, and to whom they’re assigning the term. As we’ve seen in both Book of Salt by Monique Truong, and Exile According to Julia by Gisele Pineau, the characters Bihn and Man Ya represent comparable, but fundamentally different ideas of the other in French society. They are used, in many situations, as representatives of their race as a whole, and the French ruling class is often depicted as categorizing these character’s acceptability in their country by previous notions of Bihn and Man Ya’s race. Also at work in the comparison of these characters’ identities is their own intersectionality, and their ability to adapt to a new culture and environment. As made apparent in the aforementioned novels, Bihn and Man Ya have very different reactions to the institutions defining them as other, and their reactions play a role in their own classification, and the question of apparent exile.
In order to understand Bihn and Man Ya’s fundamental difference as others, it must be compared to how French society treats different distinctions of others. In the case of A Book of Salt, the other in the novel is shown to be Asian immigrants. On the whole, like most others, they aren’t treated well. The Asian immigrants act as workers, or more…

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