Continental Drift Themes

Continental Drift Themes

Continental Drift of Human Interrelationships

The title of the book is inspired by the geological concept of the epochal shifting of tectonic plates to rip apart large existing land masses to create new ones. This theoretical concept is then applied to human relationships. The process of continental drift is so slow that it defies any attempt at human perception, yet it is a geologic certainty underway at every moment in history. Twin narrative lines involving separate people in separate countries living under separate conditions among separate cultures eventually collide in the literary equivalent of creating a brand new land mass existing as one which had existed separately.

Life Goes On, but Differently

The final chapter provides an overview of what the story is intended to mean; a kind of thematic summing up by the narrator. Edited for the sake of not giving away the ending, the author writes:

“Everything that happens in their lives after [a death] in Miami will seem to have happened as if [the deceased] never existed. Yet surely, if [the deceased] had not existed and if [that] life had not taken the shape [given it] then the particulars of the lives of [those left behind] would have been different.”

In other words, the person who died made no great impact on society and the world will continue to revolve without every many ever taking note of that person’s existence, but regardless of whether a person’s existence touched just one life or billions, the world is different by virtue of having been here.

Perception and the American Dream

The novel is constructed as two distinct and separate narratives that are inexorably targeted toward each other. The protagonists at the head of each narrative could not be more different from each other, but both do share one very common goal with each other and countless millions of others: making the American Dream come true. Because they differ in terms of gender, education, privilege, economics, family history, cultural background and other aspects, their respective visions of what the American Dream actually represents vary widely as well. As each narrative unfolds on its own with the logic of a predetermined accident just waiting to take place, the witnesses (each reader) may disagree on how the accident might have been averted, but the message implied by the author is strong enough to convict on: it was believing in the myth of the American Dream in the first place that caused these two narratives to drift into one story.

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