Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Racial Sin

In the works we’ve read so far the narrator and the characters have all professed a deep love for their homeland. One of Wendt’s main characters, the “boy,” flies in the face of this assumption. Upon his return to Samoa he finds a home neither as he remembered it nor as he was told by his parents. What could have caused this change, and why is it so different from perhaps the Igbo or the Maori homelands?
In the previous novels the introduction of a new “homeland” or in a sense a bias for another homeland in which a colony is viewed was seen as an invasion of sorts. Here in Sons for the Return Home a family has been exiled and a new homeland, or undergone a “reverse invasion” of sorts. Mixing the reactions of the family and centering them around the boy and his girlfriend shows how the boy who embraces his situation battles subtly against the mother who brings them back to their home in Samoa. Blending them all together is the girlfriend who seems to embody the racist attitudes permeating New Zealand.
This idea allows the abortion, which at first seems to be only the sin and pain of the loss of an unborn child, to become the ultimate example of the incompatibility of the races according to the mother of the boy, who is discovered to have advised the girl to undergo the operation. At first it appeared that the abortion was a problem limited to the boy and the girl, but when the boy returned to Samoa and enters into the relationship with the girl from Apia the pain returns to him full force, as if to say that the racism he overcame in New Zealand is a prison just as the racism was in that it is inescapable. The relationships and sins of the past, as Wendt shows by juxtaposing the past with the present, will always be carried with one, seen poignantly towards the end of the novel when the father converses with the boy about his “honest” grandfather.

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