Thomas Wolfe Term Paper

Pages: 20 (5846 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 25  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian

¶ … Thomas Wolfe. It was he, in his novel "You Can't Go Home Again" coined the phrase and inserted the thought into our collective psyche. Wolfe's book is not so far from our subject. The novel deals primarily with a successful novelist who writes a book about his family and hometown, a book which causes his family and friends to feel betrayed by what they see as his use of them as characters shown in an unflattering manner. Driven from his home, the novelist leaves his home town and becomes the original expatriate - going to New York, to Paris, and to Berlin. The main character seeks to find himself everywhere, but it is not until he returns to America that he is able to rediscover himself and his homeland, both in sorrow and in hope that he can regain something of what he has lost. The character goes from expatriate to repatriate.

The word repatriation means to restore someone to his homeland. It is from the Latin, and is often used to describe the process of refugees returning from a safe haven, or soldiers returning from a war. Repatriation also simply means someone coming home.

It has often been said that one cannot go home again. Is this truly the experience of expatriates, especially those who have been away from their homelands greater than 5 years? What is it about the span of time that changes home from just that to only a place well remembered and yet not entirely a place one's own?

Are the elements which estranges one from his or her home an element of time, experience, age or a combination of these and other issues?

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For many of us, the urge to travel is derived from an inner restlessness, perhaps an element which is unique to use here in a country where most come from somewhere else. Abigail Adams, the wife of American President John Adams was known to wryly refer to her fellow citizens as "the mobility" (ibid.) because of the natural inclination for Americans to succumb to wanderlust. Why are we so keen to travel away from what is known to what is new? Why do certain elements find that it is better to set down roots in another place, making the new place home? After a period has passed, many of us find it difficult to reconnect with the places we originally call home.

Term Paper on Thomas Wolfe. It Was He, in His Assignment

Perhaps the best example of estrangement from home is the homesickness never fully resolved in the Irish who emigrated from their country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. At one point the population of Ireland dropped from 8 million in 1845 to around 2.5 million, the worst drop being seen during the potato famine (Mulcahy & Fitzgibbon, 1982). Most of the Irish left their homes to go to as far flung places as the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand (Swift, 1992). This was only the beginning of what has continued to be a drain on the Irish population. When asked why they go, most leave to further education, advance career, find employment, improve current employment opportunities or simply to find adventure they felt was lacking at home in Ireland. Most long-term emigrants are unable to ascertain when and if they plan to return to Ireland, although themes are easy to identify when this population is polled. Most of those who emigrate do not intend to return to Ireland, and the reasons noted are usually related to economics or a career issue. Emigrants cite the difficulty in finding quality employment in Ireland, higher taxes and a lower standard of living then they are able to find in the countries which they now call home.

Many who left home for education find that it is difficult to return home simply because they are unable to find work which is consistent with their level of education, or even plan to advance in career the way they could in their adopted homes. Many from Ireland also state that they are unwilling to return to what they consider a restrictive social climate. Many find it unlikely that they will be able to tolerate what they consider narrow mindedness regarding religious affiliation or overrun of morality. Many Irish feel that they will be unable to adjust to this kind of society after years of being away from it. (the transition from home to some place else can be very difficult, and even when one returns home, one can find a sense of longing for the place they lived for years, a kind of reverse homesickness. This is especially true for those who left their original home at a very young age Mervosh & McClenahan, 1997), and have little to tie them to their home of record. Sometimes parents cannot understand how overwhelming this sense of loss may be. While people are often excited and anxious about returning home, it is not unusual to feel a sense of loss for those friends we have made and those places we have lived, although technically they are not one's home, one has made a dwelling there. It is most common that any kind of sadness over leaving and returning home will resolve with time, but for some, the time to transition back to home takes longer than others. It is natural for people to grieve in a way for that which has been familiar and secure, even if has just been for a short period of time (Allard, 1996). Just because one is an experienced traveler and has lived many places, this does not mean one will be immune to the effects of reverse homesickness. Vulnerability to this problem may be increased by a sense of anticlimax at finally returning home after such a long time away, or unhappiness when expectations of home are not met. The reaction of friends and family members to one's return can also complicate the picture and make it difficult for one to reassimilate easily (Ashmalla & Crocitto, 1997). Contrasting lifestyles, especially lifestyles learned while one is away can also make the job of getting back into the swing of home patterns a little more difficult (Frazee, 1997).

Another group that has faced challenges in returning home to is East Indians. Indians are among one of the largest groups who have emigrated from their home countries, constituting a diaspora (a diaspora is a term used to describe and people or group who is forced or induced to leave their homeland and move throughout the world.) Indian expatriates are most likely the most successful expatriates in that the median income they receive in countries like America or the United Kingdom is generally 1.5 times that which they could hope to earn in their home country. This makes an obvious reason why some feel that they cannot return home (United Nations, 2006). Despite the fact that many Indians have been victims of hate crimes especially in the United States, there has not been a large degree of exodus of Indian-Americans from the United States back to India, despite problems with lack of assimilation for both ethnic as well as non-ethnic Indians. Sikh and Indo-Americans of Muslim origin were particularly vulnerable to attack after 9/11/2001.

Many Indian-Americans do not return home, simply because they find themselves caught between two cultures, especially first generation Americans. The children often find themselves in a culture clash between traditional parents who want to raise them in a traditional way and the liberal communities in which they live. These children are unlikely to feel comfortable in either the new world they were born to or came to early in life, or the world their parents knew.

It has been quite interesting to not how so many of the internal issues which are germane to the continent of India have followed Indians to the United States. It is noteworthy that when Indians in Chicago lobbied to make part of Devon Avenue in that city renamed after Gandhi, there were Pakistani businesses which made sure that another section of the same street was called Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Sikh separatist movements in the Punjab receive a significant amount of money from the United States and expatriate Indian-Americans find themselves continuing the call for an autonomous Sikh homeland. While there are very few Indian Muslims in the United States, there are many Hindus who offer support to the continuing Hindu militancy which exists within India. Indians may have chosen not to return to their homeland for reasons of employment or finances, but that does not mean they do not feel strongly about the politics of their homeland nor do they feel they do not have the right to take part in some of the decisions made around the governing of the homeland.

The Indian situation is only one of the many diaspora which exist in our new global economy. It is no longer unusual for people to leave their homes seeking better lives for themselves, for… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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