Tropic of Orange

How Much is a Life Worth? College

Upon entering the United States, the Statue of Liberty welcomes incomers with “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, / Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door” (Lazarus). Although this is the supposed promise of the United States, America does not always practice this pledge it presents. Those who are “poor”, “yearning to breathe free” and “homeless” are often dehumanized, degraded, and stereotyped in American society (Lazarus). In Karen Tei Yamashita’s, The Tropic of Orange, Yamashita seeks to humanize the homeless, the immigrants, and the women in America that are not extended the inclusion promised by the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. Yamashita seeks to look beyond stereotypes and share the truthful essence of these people-groups. Yamashita uses characterization and plot to demand attention for the ignored and equality for the dehumanized.

Yamashita divides her novel between seven characters, one of which is a homeless man named Manzanar. This act of devoting a seventh of her book to a homeless man's perspective forces the reader to view Manzanar’s voice and the voice of the homeless...

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