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The Meaning of Home: An Exploration of Diasporic Literature Essay

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Though often lumped together immigrant and Diasporic literature are not one and the same.

Diasporic literature handles the particular relationship between the individuals’' locations and

their ancestral homelands in a different way. Comparatively examining works of Diasporic

literature such as Paule Marshall's short story "To Da Duh, In Memoriam", and Rhina Espaillat's

poem "Cartography” certain parallels about disaporic identity and a sense of home surfaces.

In Paul Marshall’s short story “To Da Duh” is a women reflecting back on her childhood

experience of visiting, from New York, the island of Barbados (her ancestral homeland) for the

first time at the age of nine. While there the young protagonist meets her
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This realization is

symbolized in the relationship between the two worlds (New York and Barbados) which is

expressed through their rivalry throughout the story. One noteworthy instance is the grandmother

explains to the narrator that the sugar she eats in New York comes from Barbados, that they are

“one and the same thing” (Marshall 100). She says that “they does throw the canes into some

damn machine at the factory and squeeze out all of the little life in them to make sugar for you

all so in New York to eat” (Marshall 100).

Thus, while the narrator considers New York her home, she acknowledges a strong

connection to her ancestral homeland of Barbados. Both places are central to her self-identity, for

without her ancestors (specifically thinking of her grandmother) her being would not be possible

(Marshall 95).

Similarly, the narrator in Rhina Espaillat's poem "Cartography" also feels a strong

connection to her ancestral homeland. This poem, which describes the relocation of an individual

from her homeland to the United States, expresses the narrator’s longing for her ancestral

homeland. At one point the narrator says, “My dead are not on this map, but sleep elsewhere”

(Espaillat 32). This line and those following it (within the same stanza) describing the natural

landscape of her homeland express this sense of longing; it shows how –at least in this way-
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