Lost Children Archive

by Valeria Luiselli
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What effect does Valeria Luiselli's decision not to name her characters have on the tone of the narrative in Lost Children Archive?

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The primary effect that Valeria Luiselli achieves by not naming her characters is to emphasize their universality. Even though she provides numerous specifics about both members of the adult married couple, the absence of names implies that each of them may represent a type more than an individual. The ethical...

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The primary effect that Valeria Luiselli achieves by not naming her characters is to emphasize their universality. Even though she provides numerous specifics about both members of the adult married couple, the absence of names implies that each of them may represent a type more than an individual. The ethical dilemmas they consider are those that other journalists and researchers constantly face. A reader could imagine a similar couple embarking on a similar project anywhere in the United States.

In addition, the fact that their destination is unclear suggests that the adult characters should also be regarded as members of the “lost children” category; their losses can include their own childhoods and childlike innocence, as well as the past of the locations they traverse. For the child characters, that implication is less ambiguous. In much the same way that the couple’s two children get lost, countless other children who make their way to the border are separated from their families, homes, and countries. As those two children meet the others, they expand their knowledge of and compassion for the other children’s situation. In this way, they, too, are losing their innocence and moving away from the emotional status of being a child.

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