Nationalism You Can't Go Home Term Paper

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Because of the laws prohibiting individuals from working anywhere but 'home' and the fact that the war he fought in was supposed to be for a national identity and home, home provides such a potent, gripping force for Halid that he does not leave his own town, even though he knows his 'friends' desire to kill him. The idea of friends is now confusing, as the Christians he once called friends before the war now loathe the sight of him. Thus the skill of Homecoming is that it shows the paradox of national identity. The power that we invest in the concept of home and national self-determination often kills us, and kills our sense of self, even though it is supposed to provide these essential elements of our character. National identity and familial ties are not so powerful that they can erase the memory of wartime atrocities committed on a level of simple, basic humanity. Nationalism destroys Halid's hope of marriage and a family.

Halid cannot entirely extricate himself from his bonds to his homeland, however much he may wish to evade them and escape. There is no sense that even a man who wishes to eschew homecoming all together can evade his destiny, and Halid's acceptance of his death seem almost tragic and Grecian in style. Briefly, he entertains a plot to go to America with Momir's widow Mira, but is unsurprised when it comes to failure. The novel echoes the themes of the film "LAmerica" which is also about the power of place. "LAmerica" is set in the formerly communist land of Albania. The film shows immorality of a different kind, not a state-generated war, but two Italian conmen trying to make a 'fast buck.' However, one of them, Gino, becomes emotionally involved with the people of Albania and like Halid, forms ties that cross narrow bonds of identity.
The lie of a singular national identity and narrative in the film is demonstrated by how the Albanians view Italy as a kind of Promised Land, just as the Italians see Albania's poverty as a money-making opportunity, and how Gino comes to look like an Albanian, simply by becoming dirty like a refugee. Like Halid, everyone dreams of escape, even if national partisans insist that they should only dream of home, but often the appearance of identity is merely a surface construction, a title.

Along with "Miss Sarajevo," and other tales of the Yugoslavian experience, Homecoming suggests that people have a dual need, to feel a positive and valid sense of place and home, but also the need to feel validated as an individual human being in a way that transcends national characterizations. Human beings desire a personal life, and also to form connections with others in a way that transcends national identity. The women in the beauty pageant of "Miss Sarajevo" wish to be validated as individuals, not simply exist as faceless members of a national collective. Their coveted title is nationalistic but there is no woman who is more truly "Miss Sarajevo," the singular representative of the complicated spirit of the land. Like Halid, all of the women, regardless of their personal history, long for the sort of sustaining sense of a personal life and a peace that embraces a wider concept than any title or border can encompass.

Works Cited

LAmerica." Directed by Gianni Amellio. 1994.

Miss Sarajevo." Directed by Bill Carter. 1993.

Radojcic, Natasha Homecoming. Random House, 2005......

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