Food in Literature Criticism: Social Food And Ethnic Identity - Essay

Elizabeth B. House (essay date 1984)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The ‘Sweet Life’ in Toni Morrison's Fiction,” in American Literature, Vol. 56, No. 2, 1984, pp. 181-202.

[In the following essay, House explains that Morrison relies heavily on food metaphors to convey images of an idyllic life and dreams of success in the lives of her characters.]

In each of her novels, The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), and Tar Baby (1981), Toni Morrison juxtaposes two categories of people's dreams and aspirations, visions of how life should be lived. The first dreamtypes are idyllic, for their proponents' chief aims are to live in concord with people and nature while remaining...

(The entire section is 8750 words.)

Charles P. Toombs (essay date September 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Confluence of Food and Identity in Gloria Naylor's Linden Hills: ‘What We Eat is Who We Is,’” in College Language Association Journal, Vol. 37, No. 1, September, 1993, pp. 1-18.

[In the following essay, Toombs theorizes that in Linden Hills, Naylor offers food consumption as a viable way of understanding problematic issues regarding African-American identity.]

Yet the people went on living and reproducing in spite of the bad food. Most of the children had straight bones, strong teeth. But it couldn't go on like that. Even the strongest heritage would one day run out.


(The entire section is 6092 words.)

Ksenija Bilbija (essay date Winter 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Spanish American Women Writers: Simmering Identity over a Low Fire,” in Studies in Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 20, No. 1, Winter, 1996, pp. 147-65.

[In the following essay, Bilbija examines the exploration of Latin-American identity through the use of kitchen and alchemy metaphors in the fiction of such authors as Laura Esquivel and Silvia Plager.]

“… for example, food is to be eaten; but it also serves to signify (conditions, circumstances, tastes); food is therefore a signifying system, and must one day be described as such.”

—Roland Barthes, Critical Essays


(The entire section is 6305 words.)

Marta Dvorak (essay date September 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Ethno-Semiotics of Food: A. M. Klein's ‘Second Scroll’ as Recipe for Multiculturalism,” in Mosaic, Vol. 29, No. 3, September, 1996, pp. 15-33.

[In the following essay, Dvorak presents an analysis of the social and political nature of food in Klein's Second Scroll, noting that the novel represents the author's efforts to recover an ethno-religious heritage.]

Ottawa's two-decade-old policy of encouraging immigrants to preserve and enhance their heritage, coupled with the current high levels of nonwhite immigration, have transformed Canada into a multiracial, pluri-ethnic society. Yet at the same time that major Canadian cities such as Toronto,...

(The entire section is 8053 words.)

Paul Outka (essay date Fall 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Publish or Perish: Food, Hunger, and Self-Construction in Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior,” in Contemporary Literature, Vol. 38, No. 3, Fall, 1997, pp. 447-82.

[In the following essay, Outka contends that Kingston's autobiographical memoir blends myths, stories, and fiction to create a transcultural identity for the author.]

Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts is a difficult book to define generically. Kingston originally intended it for publication as a novel, but Knopf thought it would sell better as nonfiction and labeled the first printing as such.1 The publisher's strategy...

(The entire section is 14139 words.)