Ferraro engages the literature of immigration and mobility by asking what motivates its authors and what their work actually accomplishes. He concentrates on five diverse examples of the "up-from-the-ghetto" narrative: Mario Puzo's The Godfather, Anzia Yezierska's Bread Givers, Henry Roth's Call It Sleep, Henry Miller's "The Tailor Shop," and Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. To Ferraro the unsuspected value of these works is that they recast the conventions of ethnic representation, illustrating the power of ethnic writing to capture and redirect the national literary imagination.
Ferraro's sharply observed reading of these five works shows how such reenactments of immigrant mobility test the ideology of assimilation against the writer's experience. Ethnic Passages will refocus discussion of how literature addresses the American conflict between ethnic heritage and the greater opportunities of "mainstream" society.
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