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In Julia Alvarez’s poem “Exile” she thinks about her family and how they left their homeland. She had to adjust to NYC and this is a concern in the poem.
The voice in the poem is very innocent, like a child. Her memories are a child’s . She remembers her father as in, “worried whispers,” and she remembers her uncle, as in his “phony chuckles," and her mother made promises to them , as in, “there was a better surprise” in the end after they move to America.
The poem consists of many contrasts--the family’s homeland contrasted with New York City. In addition, the father who was full of knowledge and ability inthe Dominion becomes a man who knows so little when he lives in New York City. Their vacation at the beach that she expected is in contrast to the beach scene in the Macy's store window. All of these contrasts show the girl's culture shock.
The poem is mainly about all the conflicts and adjustments that people in exile must face when they are living away from their homelands.
In the poem, the images of water predominate. These images heighten the threats experienced by the immigrants. They can sink or swim. They can submerge or float.
They have to do something, in order to survive. And everything they expect is not what it really is. The confusion is apparent in the poem and the water images add to the immediacy of the experience.
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