Tropic of Orange

Family Connections in "Tropic of Orange" College

In Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel Tropic of Orange, while the narrative is split into seven parts, so is the opinions and the lifestyles of the seven characters who stories she dictates. Family is an idea that defines us all. Whether that is by blood, by choice, the idea of “family” allows us to function, and without it one would wither away. What Yamashita highlights in her novel is that family can be found anywhere and often in anything. Each character, particularly those of Bobby, Buzzworm, Manzanar, Emi, and Rafaela, find a different meaning in the idea of family, or having people to rely on, and just as their lives all loosely intersect, so does their definition of togetherness. By the end of the novel, Yamashita shows that through disastrous moments, people show their true colors and overcome distance and borders in order to define their love and family.

Bobby defines the motley crew of characters as a collective. He is all of them at once, one large family, one melting pot of ethnicity, and yet still only ever worries about his own immediate world. To him, family is what he can see. It is what he can feel, what he can touch and what he can buy to keep the rest of it from going away. There are multiple times throughout the...

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