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Background

BackgroundThis novel by Isabel Allende concerns what happens over a three day period during a snow storm in Brooklyn, New York. A minor traffic accident brings the book’s major characters together. Yet, this vehicular entanglement is not the only problem. Richard, Lucia and Evelyn, the central characters in this book, are involved in a murder they did not commit. Strangely, all three have killing and massacre in their pasts. Lucia is from Chile and has escaped from Pinochet’s Chilean coup in the 1970s; Evelyn has been “trafficked” from Guatemala enduring all forms of horror and hardship; and Richard is a human rights professor and activist regarding immigration issues and refugees.Just as the characters are interconnected so are the processes of globalization, embodying a transformation of space, social relationships and transactional flows and networks. Adding to this compression of capital, finance, economy, and society, world structures intensify a deeper consciousness concerning global communities and their cultural issues, perspectives, and notions of personhood.The novel may be fictional but it does encompass actual issues affecting our global community. As bad weather produces accidents in Allende’s book, desperation and secrets magnify fear on an individual level. Socio-political realities, highlighting dictatorships, human trafficking, dangerous borders and migration movements appear to surface inexplicably. The characters are certainly different but their lives, as globalization proclaims, are interrelated and connected. One life is attached to another and the effects of that attachment can produce very intense results.Now it is time to refresh our minds by going back and rereading the course description.  It should offer us ideas, words and phrases that may prove useful in our final exam response Also, it should show how the globalized elements of interrelationships, interlinking, and interconnectedness have been reflected in Allende’s novel.Course descriptionGlobalization and Latin American LiteratureThis course will provide a lens into the realms of globalization in Latin America and how this area enters into and intertwines with stories of diverse Latin American/Caribbean realities. Since 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, positive and negative changes have swept over the entire world and Latin American and Caribbean countries have not been exempt from these all-encompassing processes. Although globalization has been defined in many different ways, the dynamics connected to it usually include some form of world integration, interdependency and interconnectivity. These words are frequently interpreted in an overwhelmingly economic sense, but world literature has also been affected by these global transformations. In the case of Latin American storytelling, texts involving politics, society, environment, commerce, science, and culture have expanded their regional focus to multiple geographical locations where people’s lives, families and communities have impacted and /or been impacted by this ever-changing global system. Problematic aspects as well as untold opportunities are now more in evidence in plots, characterizations, and narrative structures, foregrounding situations involving migration, immigration, neighborhood values, borders and walls, gender, the drug trade, and ecological matters, among others. Therefore, this class will attempt to critically question globalization’s strategies, ideological structures and systems of power through texts, novels and films. By analyzing the wider arenas of the geopolitical, social and cultural, fictional worlds will attempt to illustrate this region’s hopes, struggles, dreams and drama, manifesting the existence of a new global south with fresh perspectives concerning the realities of the late 20th/ early 21stcentury.TraumaUsing this course description we can see how Allende’s greater truth is most likely linked in many ways to the concept of trauma. Trauma is an un-representable event which causes irreversible damage to the psyche causing forms of psychological dissociation and problems of remembering.  This suffering may originate from an external source, individual perpetrator, and/or collective social practices. Traumatic experiences trigger disruptions in an affected individual’s consciousness. The values attached to this traumatic experience are influenced by a variety of individual and cultural factors that change over time. Since trauma is not locatable in only the violent or original event of an individual’s past, it returns to haunt the survivor in various repressive and repetitive ways. Its connections to other events spread out much farther than just the person’s experiential field. Trauma may be aligned with cultural or historical happenings, which function as stress factors, capable of initiating bouts of dissociative disorders.Trauma and the surrounding reason for it enter the areas of human rights, immigration and immigrants, migrations and migrants, personhood, and indirectly globalization. One significant aspect linking this list of areas to one another is the fact that they all involve real people with real lives. These lives are filled with joys and sorrows, fears and strengths and loves and losses; in other words, they are examples of human beings with stories, encompassing past struggles, present uncertainties and doubtful futures. The people in these situations have been trapped in different crises, whose common outcome has been one composed of migratory routes and global movements.  That is why this book is so important.Final Exam This might be a good choice for those of you who are interested in the field of trauma.In a 3 page essay, analyze violence and power through the lens of trauma regarding immigration, migrations, trauma, current border realities and criminality in general.  How have these elements been reflected in Isabel Allende’s novel, as well as potentially, in the development of her various  characters and their struggles. Trauma has been defined in many ways. Most times, however, there is a strong indication toward  and/or direct involvement with a disturbing event. This occurrence leads to an emotional response after the event, causing shock and often long term neuroses, psychologically strained relationships, and/or physical ailments such as, headaches, nausea, sleep disruption, and physical/psychological pain.. The novel by Isabel Allende offers instances and episodes which might be related, directly or indirectly, to this area of trauma. Family separations, children being sent to travel alone, treatment by “coyotes” regarding people attempting to cross borders, immigration and migration practices, indescribable sufferings of people by government officials, massacres and killings, dictatorships, gangs etc. all have different traumatic associations.Allende writes about these aspects when she says, ”How important was it to share one’s pain and discover that others too had their fair share of it too, that lives are often alike and feelings similar.”  This is strangely important considering the current environment. The pandemic which we are still living through and experiencing in diverse ways, may also be associated with trauma. How have your own personal experiences permitted you in some way to understand some of  Allende’s thoughts more deeply?Some points to considerThis option may help those who are obviously experiencing and wish to write about the effects of the pandemic. After reading the book or reviews and listening to you tube videos about it, try to align the characters, places and situations from the book with some feelings or thoughts you may have felt or are still feeling during this disturbing time. Dr. Spiegel, a trauma expert and psychologist, writes about trauma as an abundance of  “sudden discontinuities in physical and psychological experiences.” This pandemic certainly possesses those characteristics which should help us imagine loss, as expressed in this novel and in the actual reality affecting so many people today.

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