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Elements that Stand Out in ‘ The Kiss’by Julia Alvarez

Cultural diversity is well appreciated all over the world. From Africa to Europe, across the Caribbean to Latin America all the way to North America, populations differ in terms of language, race and culture. Perhaps the most significant of these is culture that is much dictated by one’s place of origin. More often than not, it becomes a challenge living in a society with different social norms and expectations from one’s own. It is even more difficult where one has to deal with conservative members of the family. Reading ‘ The Kiss’gives an insight into this.

Understanding Julia Alvarez’s background may help one to better understand her works and the themes contained therein. Her family migrated to the United States of America from the Dominican Republic, a move that exposed it to many challenges, both within and outside the family. Much changed in the family, from the beliefs that governed it to the way it viewed itself. The plot of ‘ The kiss’is a mirror of what actually happened in the Alvarez family.

The content is very interesting and captivating. Issues that are of concern to all families, especially those that migrate to the United States are addressed. It is Sofia’s father’s birthday, and the mood is jovial. Everything goes on splendidly with the live music and the toasts until the underlying tension caused by a long family conflict explodes. Yolanda at some point notices Carlos’ sour mood and decides to light him up by engaging him in a game in the middle of the party. The daughters are to peck their father on the forehead or cheek; he should then guess which of the daughters kissed him. Sofia is at this time in the bedroom tending to her son, but she returns and notices her father does not guess her name. She is very upset, but she decides to surprise him by kissing and licking his ear sensuously. This act arouses him, and he gets furious, snatches the blindfold and declares the game and the party over (Alvarez, 1991).

Free indirect narration is an element that stands out clearly and makes ‘ The Kiss’more interesting. This is especially the case where Carlos’ mood is described, for he feels out of place among his daughters’ young and fancy friends (Alvarez, 1991). He compares his long, eventful life to their youth and inexperience, and imagines how his death would be inconsequential on their material life. His mood is sour, something that Yolanda notices before she decides to play the game. This element is significant here because it helps in the flow of the plot.

Symbolism is another literary element that stands out. ‘ The kiss’is symbolic for through it; Sofia reveals to her father the extent of her sensuality. Flaunting her sexuality before the guests humiliates him. Sexual contact between father and daughter is considered incest and therefore taboo, but she breaks this by flirting and going to the extent of arousing him. Through it, she draws attention to his inability to control her sexual behavior although she is a married woman.

The conflict between Sofia and her father represents women’s struggle over their sexuality. It also illustrates the cultural differences of the Dominican Republic and the United States. In the former, a man’s ability to guard and protect the chastity of his female relatives determines his honor, whereas, in the latter, a woman is expected to be in control of her sexuality once she reaches adulthood (Cancela, 1986). The conflict here grows in the gap between these cultural differences.

In conclusion, the elements discussed did not affect any opinion to the work. It is worth mentioning that they made it more interesting and easier to understand the themes contained therein, each in equal measure.

References

Alvarez, J. (1991). How the Garcia girls lost their accents. Chapel Hill, N.C: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Cancela, J. O., (1986).  Heritage Society Museum and Archives. & British Columbia Heritage Trust. The ditch: Lifeline of a community. Oliver, B.C: Museum & Archives.

Sample solution

Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14 th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell. 

In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings ( Cheney, 2016) . The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.

God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader ( Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017) . While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.

Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “ arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.

To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.

 

References

Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them.  Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed , 267.

Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro.  Cultural and Religious Studies 4 (8), 487.

Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27.  Italica , 285-297.

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