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Literature and Culture Essay

I. Literature – General Introduction “Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness” (Helen Keller) Keller could not have been more correct in this insight about literature, and scarcely would anyone who has had a lifetime with the written word raise any issue about its faultlessness.

Man with his complex, often unfathomable and unpredictable thoughts, feelings and actions, and many times restrained by societal norms from openly exposing what he has inside him, considers literature as a socially acceptable vehicle for unrestrained self-expression. Literature is life. It is a mirror of man’s desires and aspirations, his ambitions and accomplishments, his fears and anxiety, his joyful and fulfilling moments. Through it, he records his experiences of triumphs and downfalls, laughter and anguish, determination and indecision—from things phenomenal to matters mundane.

It is only through literature that the human mind is able to successfully transcend all material barriers to reveal its essence which constitutes the “isness” of man’s being. Literature, then, is the totality of humanity. The famous French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre succinctly said it all in the following line: “If literature is not everything, it’s not worth a single hour of someone’s trouble” (http://www. brainyquote. com/quotes/keyword/literature. html). What is Literature? ? So broad and deep is the extent and scope of literature that putting up a definition for it is almost like limiting its parameters.

However, for academic purposes, it will be relevant to explain what the concept encompasses. ? On a general perspective, anything that is written is classified as literature. ? On a stricter sense, however, and across cultures and ages, literature is associated with a poem, or a fiction article, or a stage play, a book or a classroom lesson. ? Literature, as the body of written works of a language, period or culture, and produced by scholars and researchers, reminds us of stories, epics, sacred scriptures and classical works of the ancient and modern times.

Literary works are portrayals of the thinking patterns and social norms prevalent in society. Classical literary works serve as a food for thought, imagination and creativity. ? A literary article should interest, entertain, stimulate, broaden the imagination and experience, or ennoble the reader (Roberts 2). It springs as an idea from the need of its creator to get across a thought or feeling. The writer starts from an experience or set of experiences, real or imagined, which he thinks he needs to share with his public.

Working on his creative tablet, he recreates the facts to reflect true-to-life happenings, or invents incidents, places, and characters and puts thoughts into the latter’s minds and words in their mouths. Or he may decide to compress an otherwise long factual or imagined story in a few metered or rhythmical lines. The result is an original text that satisfies its creator’s purpose– a literary article, an imaginative literature. ? Kirszner & Mandell explain that the word “literature” immediately stirs in the mind the concept of “imaginative literature” (1).

Imaginative Literature is one which temporarily transports the reader to a different world, away from the physical and emotional realities of his existence, where he could be free to view the world with his own eyes and heart. Imaginative literature is not confined to print. A substantial number of orally transmitted imaginative literatures have set the traditions in their respective genres and have remained among the most respectable pieces in the literatures of the world. Why should we value literature? Literature that is imaginative can have far-reaching effects on the reader (Kirzner & Mandell 2-3).?

The characters, scenes, images, powerful language, and carefully and masterfully developed plot can delight the reader and offer him an ephemeral escape from the stiffness, boredom, even cruelty of the world around him. ? It can transport the reader out of the limits of his time and space, and get him into seeing another possible phase of life. Meaningful insights can be drawn from wholesome literary texts. ? It can bring him to a level where he is able to see his life more objectively, up close and personal.

This is because literature reveals truths about humanity. More than a mere description of people and what they do, literature brings the reader to a slice of virtual life in which he (the reader) consciously experiences his humanity. This is an added value of literature. ? It is an avenue for him to view and understand his own experiences and those of others. Reflecting can make him more sensitive to the needs of others and his own. Literature, then, can serve as a value guide as well as a lead to an analysis of values and meanings about the realities in life.

? Imaginative literature is founded on facts—history, pure science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, mathematics, and other branches of knowledge. The information load it carries can be another added value to the reader. Similarly, literature that is imaginative has marked values for the writer (Krizner & Mandell 3). ? It is a creative avenue for self-expression. A writer can unravel the ill-effects of cultural patterns and norms, and can suggest ways to remedy a stinking system through the characters of his short story, novel, or play, or the persona in poetry.

Also, he reveals his individuality and uniqueness as a writer in the way he manipulates the elements of his genre—character, setting, language, format, and style. ? It is an expression of common cultural values. A writer has his own mind about a problem or issue, but that “thought” is molded by the collective sentiment, aspiration, philosophy, value, even fears of the community or cultural group he belongs to. Literature provides opportunities for the transport of these ethnic or cultural thoughts, feelings, and biases to peoples across cultural borders.

It is in this way that literature can stand as the conscience and consciousness of the community which created it. Literary Genres and Culture Traditions in literature include classifying works into literary types or genres. Genre classification can have several advantages (web. nchu. edu. tw/~chtung/1986. doc. 2-6). ? It can bring about an order or a system in the handling of literary texts and, in effect, facilitates choice of materials akin to one’s interests, which can result in greater understanding and appreciation.

For example, a reader who has an ear for musicality and rhythm will pick up a poetic text more likely than he would a book of fiction. ? It has resulted in the writing of standards for each genre. With the aid of these writing standards, literary creators are able to craft their works more systematically. Thoughtfully going over the standards for a drama will aptly arm a novice writer to focus on what the audience will look for in a play. Conversely, a critic who is familiar with genre standards will know exactly what to look for in a literary work.?

The existence of genre classification is one avenue that can lead to the meeting of minds between the reader and the writer. When the brain has identified beforehand what it is looking for in a text (schemata-text matching through knowledge of specific genre), comprehension of the text will be less stressful, less threatening and more enjoyable. Culture-based Literary Traditions 1. Genre Classifications. The presence of traditional and universally recognized genres does not dictate the uniformity of genre classifications and the standards for each genre.

Not all genre classifications are present in all places, and not all places observe the same standards for each classification. Every culture has its own genre, owing to the variations in the experiences and aspirations of the people in each culture. For example ? The sonnet which is common in western traditions is not well known in China or among the Arab nations ( Kirszner & Mandell 2). ?The kabuki play of Japan has as yet no counterpart in western countries (Kirszner & Mandell 2). ? We still have to see a counterpart of the Filipino pasyon in other literary traditions.

2. Narrative organization conventions. The standards on the presentation of events in a plot can vary from culture to culture specifically with orally transmitted literature (Kirszner & Mandell 2). For example: ? Some native American and African stories dating to the early stage of cultural development are arranged spatially, not chronologically as is the tradition in almost all cultures. All incidents that took place in one setting are narrated, then the narration moves to focus on all the incidents in another setting, and so on until all the events are completely retold.

Even character development is not given as much focus in some traditional African and Native American stories as it is in present-day fiction (Kirszner & Mandell 3). 3. Character development. Present-day fiction puts much emphasis on the identity and the development of character. This is not so in some traditional African and Native American stories. Kirszner & Mandell state that in some of these narratives, characters are sometimes not named and can even switch roles towards the end of the story (3). Genre Classifications and Time

Earlier literary works were grouped more generally than those in the present. Contemporary literature is lumped into four big groups—prose fiction, poetry, nonfiction prose, and drama (Roberts 3) while earlier traditions recognized three groups– fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The drama in its traditional form used verse, which explains why it was categorized as poetry. Although not markedly divergent from the present literary groupings, the “old” genre classification reflects those which societies then considered to be what mattered most. The Genres of Literature

Critics could not seem to agree on one best way literary writings should be grouped; however, most authorities name four categories for classifying literature (Roberts 3). 1. Narrative fiction or prose fiction. This is the literary type which first comes to mind when the word fiction is mentioned. Narration, or retelling past events, is what makes fiction what it is. ? Narrative fiction gives an account of a series of events, factual or imagined but mostly imagined.?

One character, the protagonist, or a few characters is/are at the center of these events, causing them to happen and or causing him to be transformed. ? He is confronted with a problem, the solution of which is his primary concern, and the action he takes towards its resolution is the reason for his transformation. He may or may not overcome the problem. ?

Some events in fictional narratives are drawn from historical incidents but fictionalized through change of names, places, and time, and a slight tweak in the plot. ? Through narrative fiction, the author is able to express his thoughts about a problem or issue, and/or is able to entertain.

Classifications of Narrative Fiction a. Myth. This prose fiction, which punctuates the literary beginnings of practically every cultural group, is a story centered on how the gods related to humans—how certain places, beings, and places came to be, how the gods’ biases made some people’s lives fulfilling and rendered others’ lives miserable, how conflicts among the mortals affected the gods or vice versa. Myths can also be about struggles among cultural heroes, each one representing the time-established beliefs of a particular cultural group. b. Parable.

This is a short narrative about some ordinary experiences of a group of people and is meant to connect to the teaching of a certain moral, or the hammering home of a philosophical, social, religious, or political teaching. The Jewish tradition best exemplifies the use of parables. c. Romance. This refers to lengthy Spanish and French stories of the 16th and 17th centuries, especially about the adventures and ordeals of the royalty and the members of their court. It can also refer to modern formulaic stories describing the growth of an impulsive, profound and powerful love relationship.

d. Short story. Owing to its comparative brevity, this is the most popular type of narrative fiction. The plot may revolve around one or two main characters facing a difficulty. There are high as well as low points in their lives but, almost always, each one’s life will not go back to exactly the same point where it began. Because of the little space dictated by the shortened form of the text, interactions and relationships resulting in changes in character, no matter how subtle, are described briefly. e. Novel. This is a short story in extended form.

Length being its advantage over the short story, the novel permits the full and sometimes exhaustive development of the interactions that lead to changes in some characters’ disposition, thoughts, feelings, or aspirations (Roberts 5). 2. Poetry. A poem is a literary form that “expresses a monologue or a conversation grounded on the most deeply felt experiences of human beings” (Kirszner & Mandell 522). ? It is acclaimed as the oldest and the most popular among the literary forms. ? It is the most variable in length, running from a few syllables, as in the Japanese haiku, to hundreds of stanzas, as in the epic.?

The language is compressed in a few lines or verses arranged in conformity with the principles of form, rhythm, and sometimes meter and rhyme. ? It has a rich imagery and suggestive forms of expression, making it the most puzzling and, therefore, the most open to multiple interpretations. These qualities make poetry “unique” (Roberts 5). ? Among earlier cultures, for example, Greek and Roman, poetry served as a vehicle for the expression of the spiritual and the philosophical. With the passing of time, poetry has gained an added value—that of expressing the most profound ideas and the deepest emotions of humanity.

Across the cultures of the present, poetry remains to inspire, to delight, and to serve as a vehicle for the concerns of the heart (Kirszner & Mandell 522). Classifications of Poetry f. Narrative poetry. This is a story in verse, of which there are two familiar forms: i. Epic. Apparently the more familiar of the two, an epic is a narrative account in verse of the accomplishments of a heroic figure, a folk hero who exhibits extraordinary physical powers and superhuman dispositions, of gods, and other supernatural entities.

The account covers a wide expanse of time and place, and reflects the cultural characteristics of the people who wrote it. Although some epics are credited to particular authors, others are ascribed to their countries or cultures of origin. This is because epics of old were handed down orally, in plain verse or in song, and, as a result, grew and developed as they passed from one generation to the next, eventually mirroring the evolution of the people’s traditions and norms. Of worldwide renown are The Iliad of Homer, The Aeneid of Virgil, Beowulf of the Anglo-Saxons, and Mahabharata of the Hindus.

ii. Ballad. Like the epic, the ballad traces its origin to oral tradition. Originally intended to be sung, this narrative poem carries one outstanding characteristic–its use of repetition of words and phrases, including a refrain. g. Lyric Poetry. This poem does not attempt to tell a story. Possessing a very personal and subjective nature, it conveys the speaker’s feelings, biases and aspirations, state of mind, and perceptions in a melodious mood. Lyric poetry sub-types include the following (Kirzsner & Mandell 525-526): iii. Ode.

This is a long lyric poem which is, generally, on a serious subject, such as an important concept (for example, freedom), person, or any other entity in nature (for example, the sun) and with a formal poetic diction and meditative mood. The poem centers on the speaker’s observations about the subject and usually winds up with an effort towards shedding light on an emotional problem. Owing to its Greek origin, it is often intended to be recited or sung by two choruses. iv. Elegy. This lyric sub-type is meant to mourn the passing of a specific person.

As such, it is characterized by a melancholy and plaintive mood and an ending that offers consolation. It may also reflect what the author considers to be mysterious, uncertain, or strange. v. Pastoral. In contrast to the elegy, the pastoral has a light, happy, even romantic mood as it celebrates the simplicity and idyll of country life. vi. Occasional poem. This poem is meant for a particular event, for example, a wedding, the installation of a prominent church leader, the putting up of a landmark, or a president’s inaugural. vii.

Poems on everyday activities. Poems are sometimes written to express the writer’s feelings or describe his experiences about day-to-day events, for example, going about the daily chores, herding the animals back to their corral, or riding the trolley. viii. Aubade. This poetic form is specifically written to celebrate or lament the coming of a new day, specifically the arrival of morning. Dawn is often welcomed with joy and hope, but it can also bring despair to a persona who sees it as a signal to leave his lover. ix. Meditation.

An ordinary object can be used as a vehicle to consider important, more serious issues. A poem that is focused on this is called meditation. Kriszner and Mandell cite Edmund Waller’s Go, Lovely Rose as an example (526) in which the speaker tells the rose meant to be delivered to his lady love his message for the lady. Far more important than his words of adoration is his advice for the lady not to waste the charm and time bestowed upon her since time flies and beauty fades in no time. x. Dramatic monologue. In this poem, the speaker addresses one or more listeners who is/are absent.

In the process, the speaker unravels the dramatic aspect of the situation and reveals his psychological and emotional side of the issue at hand, which is usually less interesting than how he (the speaker) treats it. Some authors use the term dramatic lyric. xi. Some authors classify the epigram, a verse in two to four lines with characteristic wit and sarcasm, under lyric poetry Cited as a classic example is Alexander Pope’s On the Collar of a Dog (voices. yahoo. com) which runs in two lines. In most cases, however, an epigram is not a stand-alone piece but forms part of a longer poetic composition. xii.

Other cultures have their own types of lyric poems, e. g. , ghazal in Urdu, and rondeau in French. h. Satirical Poetry. As far back as the days of the Roman empire, poetry was already used as a powerful vehicle for political purposes. This tradition continues to these days. Many who are disgruntled with any system or structure choose to amplify their bitterness and discontent artistically through carefully crafted satirical poems. Poetry can have several forms. i. Sonnet. It comes in 14 lines arranged in three quatrains and a couplet [Shakespearean or English] or an octave and a sestet [Petrarchan or Italian].

The iambic pentameter is generally used in sonnets. ii. Cinquian. It has five short lines with the following pattern: line 1 – one word or 2 syllables; line 2 – 2 words or 4 syllables; 3 words or 6 syllables; 4 words or 8 syllables; 1 word or 2 syllables. iii. Haiku. This is a verse of Japanese origin consisting of three unrhymed lines of 5 – 7 – 5 morae (quantity of time equivalent to a short syllable). A traditional haiku carries a word pertaining to the seasons and a cutting word, called kireji, used at the end of one of the three lines.

Incidentally, there is no English equivalent of the cutting word concept (www. poemofquotes. com/haiku). iv. Tanka. Like the haiku, tanka is a Japanese verse but consists of five lines. The first and third lines carry five syllables each while the rest of the lines have seven syllables each. v. Concrete poem. This poem uses typography—the appearance of the printed text—to enhance its message. Thus, visual elements such as punctuation marks, symbols, and arrangement of words on the printed page, or the shape of the poem, are elemental in driving home the writer’s message.

A poem about the magical sounds of a bell is shaped like a flower, while one that has nature as subject may take the shape of a tree or a bird. Visual poems, pattern poems, and size poems are examples of concrete poems (www. poemsofquotes. com/articles/concrete-poetry. php). vi. Blank verse. This type of verse uses unrhymed iambic pentameter. vii. Free verse. Unlike the blank verse, this type of verse may be rhymed or unrhymed but does not observe a fixed meter. 3. Drama.

This literary genre is meant to be presented on stage. Actors portray the events in the story as though these were happening in the present. Like narrative fiction, there is a problem around which all action revolves. At the center maybe a single character or a small number of characters who carry the burden of resolving the conflict and on whose actions and thoughts the attention of the audience is largely focused.

The protagonist may overcome the problem or may be overcome by it. Unlike in a narrative fiction, the audience in a drama are able to actually witness the fictional events as they happen, making the experience direct and closer to life than in narrative fiction. i. Tragedy.

Often associated with the bizarre and the disastrous, and in keeping with Greek tradition, this type of drama is focused on “treating serious subjects and involving persons of significance” (Kirszner & Mandell 917, citing Aristotle’s Poetics). ? At the center of the drama is a character, the protagonist, who is noble, respected, perfect from almost all angles, except for one flaw which is not obvious at the start but which will later manifest to a very crucial point that will suffice to cause his downfall. ? A very important lesson is conveyed here—man’s condition in life is one of nobility. ?

The purpose of the play is to bring the audience to an experience of pity for the central character as he wrestles with the trials in his life and with experiences of fear of going through the same situation. ? The audience is expected to leave the theater with the resolution to not follow the tragic path which the central character of the play took. j. Comedy. This type of drama sits on the other end of the spectrum. It is designed to “treat themes and characters with humor and typically has a happy ending” (Kirszner & Mandell 917).

? The main character is an ordinary individual whose life is open to the public, and whom the public knows to be carrying a mask of his true self all along. ? The comedy is meant to take away that mask from the protagonist and to reveal to the audience his simplicity and foolishness, his lack of understanding of things, his being “selfish, hypocritical, vain, weak, irrational, and capability for self-delusion” (Kirszner & Mandell 917). ? Ironically, it is the comedy that brings entertainment and laughter to the audience who, unknowingly, is the subject of criticism of the action in the play. k.

Farce. This is a humorous play. But unlike the comedy, the plot does not depend on the development of a character but on a situation that is exploited ingeniously. The term can speak for itself. 4. Nonfiction Prose. Any literary form not falling under any of the categories just mentioned is classified as nonfiction prose. This group consists of a wide array of fact-based and fact-oriented written materials presenting judgments and opinions and which are created mainly as sources of information.

News reports, feature articles, essays, editorials, textbooks, and biographical and historical works fall under this category. Recently, there has been a marked increase in the interest for biographical and historical works, a good number of which have become bestsellers. Many schools have shifted to biographical and historical novels for required student readings. REVIEW QUESTIONS 1. The statements that follow are supported by the foregoing discussions except one. Find that sentence. l. Literature is a potent vehicle to convey a personal longing. m.

The most extreme of human experiences are the only ones considered as worthy literary materials. n. Man’s freedom of self-expression can be best exemplified by the almost limitless breadth of possibilities in literature. o. Reading a literary text is experiencing the writer’s unspoken regret or praise. 2. Find the sentence which is not supported by the foregoing discussions. a. Defining literature is not always necessary. b. Imaginative literature can be a rich source of lessons about living life. c. A well written literary text can cause a change in a person’s disposition.

d. Written literature has always been the better tradition. 3. Which of the following statements best paraphrases the opening quote? a. Literature is the source of Helen Keller’s highest point of contentment. b. Keller and her friends read literature a lot and find much meaning from it. c. Being blind and deaf, Keller finds literature reading as the best pastime. d. Keller’s friends love to hear her share with them what she has read and what she thinks about them.

4. Imaginative literature differs from other literary forms in the following ways except one. e.Imaginative literature builds on a writer’s personal experience and shares it factually with the reader. f. Mundane and extraordinary human experiences are vividly recreated and accented with some of the writer’s imaginative thoughts. g. Imaginative literature is everything that transports the reader to a different world, stimulates his creative mind, and appeals to his sense of values. h.

Man’s most profound thoughts and feelings are expressed in symbols and images. 5. Which three (3) statements are not supported by the discussions on the value of literature? i. Every literary text has its own place in the arena of values.j.

Longer texts, such as the novel and the drama, have a more profound reader-impact than shorter ones, such as proverbs and haikus. k. One of the added values of literature is that it requires interpretation and analysis of meaning. l. Literature has to be historical for it to be prized. m. A song expressing a prisoner’s longing for immediate freedom is an ethnicity-inspired literary piece. 6. C. S. Lewis is quoted to have said: “Literature enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the desert that our lives have already become.

” This quote supports the idea that: n. Basically, literature is based on world knowledge. o. Literature brings entertainment to its audience. p. Available in every literary text are several insights about meaningful living. q. Literature enables the reader to grasp the meaning of his experiences and those of the people around him. 7. Which of the following statements is not true about poetry? r. It dates back to the earliest years of man’s literary experience. s. It is strictly metered, rhymed, and rhythmical. t.

It can capture the most profound and the most ordinary human experience in a few words. u. The poet’s message is cloaked in rich symbols and other forms of evocative expressions. 8. Although sometimes classified as poetry, romance is proprietarily a type of narrative fiction _____: v. owing to its length. w. because it is basically intended to give an account of past incidents in story format. x. since it is situated at a definite past time and space. y. because it is about adventure. 9. The following is an English translation of a Bilaan poem attributed to pre-colonial times.

[Bilaan is a tribal group of southern Mindanao, which is the second biggest island in the Philippines and is situated in the southernmost part of the archipelago. The early people were renowned hunters and food gatherers (blog. travelpod. com/travel-blog-entries/aliawan/1/1262268183/tpod. html)]. The language of the people is also called Bilaan. ) Read the poem carefully to be able to answer the question below. LAMGE What can we do? Oh, what can we do? This is our work, this we should do. Oh my, how, oh how is this to go on? Continue, then come back when you reach the top. “’Tis not there! ‘Tis not here!

” they said. We’ll try till we can make it. It’s not here, according to them, but don’t relax Don’t be surprised. They’re still far. Let’s hurry! (Lumbera & Lumbera 11) What sub-type of poetry is Lamge? a. a poem on everyday activities. b. occasional poem. c. pastoral d. meditation 10. Which of the following work values were prized by the early Bilaans as evidenced by the poem LAMGE? z. creativity and leisure {. individual recognition and prestige |. collaboration and achievement }. autonomy and compensation 11. Study the following excerpts then identify that which is not taken from imaginative literature.

~. “EDSA’ (the name of the highway in Metro Manila that runs north to south from Caloocan to Baclaran) has become the popular designation of the revolt which began as a military mutiny on February 21 [1986] and developed into a popular uprising in Manila that culminated in the flight of the dictator and his family to Hawaii, U. S. A. on February 24, 1986. The revolt established the presidency of Corazon Aquino which was marked by the “restoration” of pre-Martial Law society” (Lumbera & Lumbera 364). . “It was raining the morning of the execution. I remember how brackish and crimson was the sky.

God has sliced open the sun, spilling its innards, carving out its heart. That sun had never seemed the same to me ever since. The cold air scraped the insides of my lungs and chilled my nape. It was the first dawn I had awakened to. The first time to witness the pained violent birthing of light” (Lumbera & Lumbera 377). . “And so we talk/ our words trying to capture/pain caroming/like the balls of ivory/ Our voices rise/and fall/ as we sit in a circle/ racing our other lives/ the beginnings/ of love/ rich and red/ as the felt on the board” (Lumbera & Lumbera 422).

 “Matumal ang pasada nang buong umagang iyon at naipasiya kong igarahe muna sa bahay and minamanehong taksi kesa magsayang ng gasolina. Pababa na ako nang sa paglingon ko’y nasulyapan ko ang clutch bag na iyon sa may paanan ng likurang-upuan. Kinabahan ako at patawarin ako ng mga anak kong gusto kong lumaking matitino, lumabo sabi nga ang tingin ko sa tama’t mali, sa masama’t mabuti. Paano kung limpak-limpak na pera ang laman ng clutch bag?

Kung bara-barang ginto o alahas kaya? Isosoli ko pa ba? Managot kaya ako kung saka-sakali? ” (Lumbera & Lumbera 422). (The trips were far between the whole morning and I decided to temporarily drive home the cab rather than [keep going through the streets and] waste gas.

I was about to get down when in a glance I noticed that clutch bag at the foot of the backseat. I began to feel restless and my children whom I wanted to grow responsible [may they] forgive me, my sense of right and wrong, good and bad, blurred. What if the clutch bag contained stacks of money? What if it had bars of gold, or jewelry? Will I return it? Will I answer for my action just in case? ) 12. Choose the excerpt that is taken from imaginative literature. . “Home making is really border making: it is about deciding who is in as well as who is out.

I began this project on Filipino Americans in San Diego at the border—the U. S. -Mexico border. Since the mid-1970s, the militarization of the U. S. -Mexico border region has intensified. From San Diego to the Rio Grande Valley, armed U. S. federal agents patrol key border points to block ‘illegal’ crossers—to keep ‘them’ from invading ‘our’ homes. Since 1994, ‘Operation Gatekeeper,’ a high-profile blockade-style operation, has turned the San Diego-Tijuana border region into a war zone, pushing immigrants to attempt more treacherous crossings in the forbidding mountains and deserts east of San Diego” (Espiritu 205-206).

“In the annals of human adversity, there is etched a cancer, of a breed so malignant that the least contact exacerbates it and stirs in it the sharpest of pains. And thus, many times amidst modern cultures I have wanted to evoke you, sometimes for memories of you to keep me company, other times, to compare you with other nations—many times your beloved image appears to me afflicted with a social cancer of similar malignancy” (Rizal, Dedication of Noli Me Tangere).

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