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CUNY Hunter College American Studies Essay

CUNY Hunter College American Studies Essay


Q1. Bernard Malamud once said, “The purpose of the writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” What do you think he is trying to tell his readers in “The Refugee?” Is there any positive message we can take from this story?

Q2. Write a thoughtful response to this answer of Question 1 as a peer review

“Literature is used for different reasons, entertainment and information being the most popular, in my opinion. Malamud might have said “the purpose of the writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself” for some of those reasons. When history is written down, we have to hope that the generations that read it in the future, will repeat or improve on the good and that they won’t repeat the past. Writing is expression, sometimes writing is the thing that can even save a person from themselves. “The Refugee” made me sad, Martin Goldberg tried to do everything he could to make Oskar feel confident and to aid him in success. The takeaway from this text is that it’s very hard to have your own language taken from you, in a way. Oskar wasn’t set up with great circumstances, and he was successful in delivering his speech but life is more than success. Frau Grassner being murdered and the letter’s he was receiving were the tipping point, I can understand how hard it would be to continue living when the circumstances in your home country are what they are. I don’t think there is a positive message to this story. All the “right” things were done for Oskar, but life as a refugee is not easy. There are so many layers to the demands of coming to another country where you can’t speak their language while feeling like you abandoned those you love. Maybe the positive message would be to teach others to consider all that a person is experiencing or could be experiencing as a refugee.”

Q3. We hear a lot about what’s going on in the city where Saeed and Nadia live at the beginning of the novel, but Hamid never tells the reader the location of the city. Why do you think he made this choice?

Q4. Write a thoughtful response to this answer of Question 3 as a peer review.

“I think the author made the decesion to not tell the readers where the location of the city is becasue this can happen anywhere at any time. People who have grandparent who immgrnated or themsleves can really relate to what Saeed and Navidia are going through with the war. We see everday on the news or learn aabout countires and cities that are being overthrown by other bigger countries. It reminds me of what is happening in todyas society. With Russia starting war with Ukraine and many people fleeing the country to other countries for safety. People of Ukraine are escaping and running away for their life beucase of the Russian military weapons they have used to destroy their homes.”

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