Examinations on the Dismantling of Canadian Multiculturalism in Rawi Hage's Cockroach

Examinations on the Dismantling of Canadian Multiculturalism in Rawi Hage's Cockroach

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Rawi Hage’s Cockroach focuses on an unnamed immigrant of unclear, perhaps Lebanese, origin as he struggles to fit into his new life in Canada. The protagonist throughout the novel struggles to assimilate into Canadian culture, undermining people’s desire for him to integrate through imagining himself as a cockroach that scurries beneath society. By doing this, and through showing memories of his character’s traumatic past, Hage signifies the struggles, which many immigrants from warring countries face, in migrating to North America, contrasting the image Canada mostly promotes as being multicultural. Jesse Hutchinson proposes that the space created by Hage where the immigrant exists between the cultures of their homeland and their new country’s, is one of possibilities and where the protagonist can retain his cultural freedom (11), while Domenic A. Beneventi examines the class divides present between the privileged and the poor, noting how the latter experiences the city space as a place of poverty (263). Indeed, I am interested in the concept of multiculturalism through how Hage represents his immigrant characters, demonstrating that idea of Canada’s multiculturalism as flawed. Syrine Hout discusses trauma and its lasting effects on immigrant Lebanese writers and how their writing of traumatic events creates a lasting memorial to the Lebanese civil war effects (330), which I will draw upon to study how Hage gives voice to immigrants who struggle with memories of their old culture as well as fitting into their new country. This paper will examine the techniques used by Hage to give representation to the turmoil faced by struggling immigrants as they attempt integration into the supposed multiculturalism of Canadian society.

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...s on much of the time. While there are many immigrants who arrive and assimilate easily into Canada, Hage gives voice to the ones who do not, the ones most often overlooked. This creates a novel that maybe speaks to all identities of immigrants, creating a work that can truly be called multicultural.

Works Cited

Beneventi, Domenic A. "Montreal Underground." Journal of Canadian Studies 46.3 (2012): 263-286. Web. 24 March 2014.
Hage, Rawi. Cockroach. Toronto: Anansi Press, 2008.
Hout, Syrine. "Cultural hybridity, trauma, and memory in diasporic anglophone Lebanese fiction." Journal of Postcolonial Writing 47.3 (2011): 330-342. Web. 24 March 2014.
Hutchinson, Jesse. "Immigration and Liminality in Rawi Hage’s Cockroach." Veljanova, Irena C. . Perception, Meaning and Identity. Ed. Irena C. Veljanova. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2010. 1-14. Web. 24 March 2014.

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