The Road from Home Critical Essays

David Kherdian


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Kherdian establishes the focus for The Road from Home when he begins with two quotations that juxtapose the Turkish genocide of the Armenian people and Hitler’s extermination of the Jews. Kherdian then foreshadows for the reader the attempt by the Turkish government to destroy the Armenian people through the words of the minister of the interior: “An end must be put to their existence and no regard must be paid to either age or sex nor to conscientious scruples.”

Kherdian’s technique in describing his mother’s childhood and adolescence takes the form of a narrative that weaves the facts of Dumehjian’s life experiences from birth to age seventeen with fictional elements and invented dialogue. The author’s voice in telling this story of survival belongs to Dumehjian herself; the reader shares with the narrator her life as it unfolds. The combination of her experiences and the limited historical context provided in the author’s note and in the body of the narrative provides a compelling and graphic picture of the atrocities that were committed against the Armenian people. By personalizing the situation in Turkey during the first two decades of the twentieth century, Kherdian makes it more immediate and comprehensible to the reader than the historical record alone is likely to do. Yet Kherdian is careful not to sensationalize the events that befell Dumehjian. The narrative is straightforward and often understated, which enhances its effectiveness.

A key to the way in...

(The entire section is 620 words.)