Take the following as a metaphor for his desire to escape the trials of the immigrant experience:. Take the following as a metaphor for his desire to escape the trials of the immigrant experience: Click here to sign up. Help Center Find new research papers in: Ecocriticism and Urban Environments. Even those spaces that humans desire to keep for themselves, such as high-end restaurants, are breached:

In choosing a morally questionable protagonist who clearly lacks integrity to be the vehicle for these criticisms, Hage puts the various approaches to consumption that the novel presents into perspective, and he thus advances a more critical approach to modern food culture and prompts a re-evaluation of the relationships between humans and the spaces that sustain them. The several supporting characters emerge through situation, environment, and terse observation. The Nature of Cities: This sentence clearly illustrates that the taste or quality of a meal matters very little to the narrator; it is simply the fact that he can satiate his hunger with it that gives it value in his eyes. The protagonist sees non-human agents operating everywhere and ascribes an important amount of agency and sentience to them: You are commenting using your WordPress. In the background we hear about his former life in Beirut:

The narrator desires to fit into normal, legitimate, acceptable society because his very survival depends on it, but in order to do so he must transform into someone that he’s not. Sooner or later, in a moment of decision, the cockroach will rise from the shadows and drains of the underworld and rise against the upper world, where the sun shines so bright.

U of Arizona P, At the same time, though, it must be noted how impossible it is to present a space of liminality as a place of possibility without a great deal of what Linda Hutcheon calls postmodern irony.

Cancel reply Enter your comment here This adds another layer of untrustworthiness to his protagonist, making you question everything he tells you. This passage is rhetorically powerful, for its ironically romantic language and its spatialization of subaltern bodies connect socio-economic marginalization and position within the cityscape to severely limited consumption options.


But I dispute the charge of mannerism, except to say that Hage has created a manner of his own. His job at the restaurant, for instance, is to segregate food from waste and to discard the latter down the drain His awkwardness around women causes him to undergo what he perceives as a metamorphosis into a dirty, many-legged insect who will survive the apocalypse, when all the wealthy people in the world will die.

cockroach rawi hage essay

Evil and goodness coexist in the same man. The protagonist sees non-human agents operating everywhere and esxay an important amount of agency and sentience to them: I argue, however, that the novel does offer the concept of the liminal space between human and cockroach as a space of possibility for the immigrant.

But the last time I had tried this, it took two minutes for the police to come and ask me why I was on the roof. Even those spaces that humans desire to keep for themselves, such as high-end restaurants, are breached: She is so committed to performing the role of the cultured woman that she must ignore the filth, poverty, and suffering around her to preserve her sense of self.

Cockroach by Rawi Hage – Archaeologies of the Weird

Regardless, scholars such as Arnold Itwaru in The Invention of Canada, argue that Canadian immigration narratives often succeed in revealing as well as challenging the myths of multiculturalism by displaying how the immigrant is unable to retain his or her rai while simultaneously fully participating in Canadian society.

Unsettling Canadian Literature, L.

cockroach rawi hage essay

His actions are always complicated by the fact that he tends to replicate the attitudes that he criticizes. Learn how your comment data is processed. In the foreground we follow his bleak, daily routine in Montreal.

cockroach rawi hage essay

I argue that Cockroach as a text offers this space in particular as a generative and productive place for the immigrant. The gap between his caustic, cynical perspective and the moral values we bring to his situation repeatedly widens and contracts — just as his own attitude fluctuates: In that refusal, the narrator is simultaneously resisting the traditional binary that Said discusses in Orientalism, which served to construct the opposition between the West and East and continues to construct the image of the immigrant before he or she even enters the country.


The text suggests then that a possible alternative to the current state policy on multiculturalism is the creation of a space of liminality, which resists the oppositions and categories that currently work to curb the individual freedoms of Canadian immigrants.

For Said, in order to maintain this construction of difference, those from the Orient are often imbued by the West with essential, unchanging traits. The talking cockroach says to the narrator: Multiculturalism, immigration, Canada, liminality, postmodern, fiction, literature The Canadian government is often praised and, in fact, often praises itself for its official policies on multiculturalism and immigration.

The most striking example comes near the end of the book when the narrator recalls an earlier experience in the host country: In choosing him as the narrator, Hage blurs the line that divides food and waste and calls into question what constitutes an appropriate use of food and water for the modern, urban inhabitant.

Cockroach by Rawi Hage

A poor, starving Middle-Eastern immigrant walking the Montreal winter streets, he sees himself as a cockroach: Immigration and Liminality in Rawi Hage’s Cockroach.

Here we have a very obvious case where the law is working coercively to modify behaviour. He never understood why you would ever need quotation marks. Hage even allows the narrator to romanticize his escapades in cockroach form: Skip to content Having attempted to hang himself from a tree, the unnamed narrator of Cockroach must meet with a psychiatrist after his release from a state-run clinic.

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