Exile By Julia Alvarezs Essays

The poem’s italicized epigram consists of two place names, Ciudad Trujillo (now known as Santo Domingo, a port city in the Dominican Republic) and New York City, along with the date 1960. This important information sets the stage for the exile experience in terms of time and place. It becomes apparent, then, that the poem will consist of adult recollections of childhood memories, and the use of direct address to the persona’s father, who never speaks, reveals the close relationship that the two share. His name, Papi, is repeated six times in the poem, reinforcing his importance in the persona’s life as well as his preeminence in the family, thus evoking a great sense of loss as the poem develops to reveal his metamorphosis into an uncertain outsider in his chosen land of exile.

Dramatic contrasts such as the images of the family’s homeland compared with New York City, the father’s fall from knowledge to uncertainty, and the expectation of the vacation at the beach that is promised compared with the false beach scene that awaits the persona and her father in the reality of New York all demonstrate the conflicting nature of culture shock and its unnerving effects on newly arrived immigrants. The inner conflicts faced by those in exile from their homelands are further developed by the repeated use of water imagery to reinforce the struggle of the immigrants to resist submersion in their new culture. They must adapt and learn to navigate the deep,...

(The entire section is 443 words.)


  • Length: 658 words (1.9 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
The poem “Exile” by Julia Alvarez dramatizes the conflicts of a young girl’s family’s escape from an oppressive dictatorship in the Dominican Republic to the freedom of the United States. The setting of this poem starts in the city of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, which was renamed for the brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo; however, it eventually changes to New York when the family succeeds to escape. The speaker is a young girl who is unsophisticated to the world; therefore, she does not know what is happening to her family, even though she surmises that something is wrong. The author uses an extended metaphor throughout the poem to compare “swimming” and escaping the Dominican Republic. Through the line “A hurried bag, allowing one toy a piece,” (13) it feels as if the family were exiled or forced to leave its country. The title of the poem “Exile,” informs the reader that there was no choice for the family but to leave the Dominican Republic, but certain words and phrases reiterate the title. In this poem, the speaker expresser her feeling about fleeing her home and how isolated she feels in the United States.
The poet uses four line stanzas or quatrains, and this is a narrative poem because the speaker tells a story. The speaker seems a little odd in a way because she does not know what is happening; “Worried whispers” (6) is an alliteration, and it also symbolizes the speaker’s anxiety. Both her uncle and father do not tell the truth to the speaker, instead they “Sugarcoat” it. This is similar to Emily Dickinson’s poem “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” because the children might get scared if they learn the truth right away. In the line “What a good time she’ll have learning to swim,” (11) the poet again emphasizes how adults lie to children so they do not hurt them. The speaker feels as though her parents are lying to her; however, she just trusts them because she believes that what adults do cannot go wrong. Also, “A week at the beach so papi get some rest” (15) sounds as if the speaker’s father has to leave the Dominican Republic because he is some kind of danger.
The speaker struggles throughout the poem because she is leaving everything she has known behind, and she is going to a new land that she knows nothing about.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Exile." 123HelpMe.com. 10 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Exile in Mythology Essay - Exile in Mythology “If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all” (Journey Quotations). Exile presents itself in many forms throughout Greek and Roman mythology. Regardless of their purpose, however, all Greek and Roman mythological characters realize the above quote by American journalist Dan Rather to be frighteningly accurate. As they step off to begin their ordeal of exile, for some reason, they fail to stay focused on their present, thinking only of their cloudy, uncertain future....   [tags: Mythology]1440 words
(4.1 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay about Writers and Intellectuals in Exile - ... Many considered exile as a human condition and an experience, wherein, the world seemed to be nothing but in existential terms, absurd and indifferent towards ones needs. This led to a situation where one feels like an outsider. John Simpson in the introduction of his book “The Oxford Book of Exile” says, that exile “is the human condition; and the great upheavals of history have merely added physical expression to an inner fact.”5 But, this holds true only if the exile is taken equivalent to self alienation in the modern sense....   [tags: Salman Rushdie, intellectuals]
:: 11 Works Cited
2495 words
(7.1 pages)
Research Papers[preview]
Essay about The Dalai Lama, a Leader in Exile - Whilst examining the world’s leaders, there is no one who compares to the Dalai Lama, who is the religious and political leader of Tibet. The Dalai Lama, (Tenzin Gyatso) had a customary childhood until the age of three, when Regent, one of the senior Lama’s, had a vision that was conclusive to having Tenzin Gyatso as the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. After years of schooling in religion and worldly affairs, he became Head of the State of Tibet at the age of 16, but was later forced into exile by the Chinese government in when Tibet was invaded....   [tags: Religion]
:: 2 Works Cited
1085 words
(3.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay about Exile - The poem “Exile” by Julia Alvarez dramatizes the conflicts of a young girl’s family’s escape from an oppressive dictatorship in the Dominican Republic to the freedom of the United States. The setting of this poem starts in the city of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, which was renamed for the brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo; however, it eventually changes to New York when the family succeeds to escape. The speaker is a young girl who is unsophisticated to the world; therefore, she does not know what is happening to her family, even though she surmises that something is wrong....   [tags: Literary Analysis, Julia Alvarez]658 words
(1.9 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
A Greek Hero's Exile Essay - Throughout history in Greek Mythology heroes undergo a journey through exile. The tribulations on exiled characters change their mental or physical attributes thus being able to give aid to his or her community. The reasoning behind why the hero goes through the strenuous process of exile varies. Several tales the hero’s ability to deny exile is possible, but they reject the option. They venture towards the option to better further their renown, thus give to the community which they receive the most respect from....   [tags: Greek Mythology]
:: 5 Works Cited
1617 words
(4.6 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Prophets of Zion and the Babylonian Exile Essay - Prophets of Zion and the Babylonian Exile In ancient Jewish culture, prophets were a part of every-day life. They proclaimed what they understood to be God’s word, and lived according to it. In times of crisis, prophets were even more present, to warn and give consolation to the people. One time period in which there were many prophets was the Babylonian Exile, where the people of Judah were taken and deported to live in Babylon. Of the books of the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, Isaiah 63:7-64:12 and Jeremiah 29:4-23 will be examined together....   [tags: essays research papers fc]
:: 1 Works Cited
1452 words
(4.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Exile Essay - Controversy of the Exile After reading 2 Kings 25 and the two articles, the main source of contrast between these two sourcs is the amount of detail they go into on different aspects of the Exile. The Biblical reading mentions King Nebuchadnezzar and his capture of King Zedekiah, the efforts of General Nebuzaradan and his detailed destruction and pillaging of Jerusalem and the Temple, the capturing and execution of Judah&#8217;s chief officers and priests, Judah&#8217;s revolt against Gedaliah and fleeing to Egypt, and the benevolence King Evil-merodach of Babylon demonstrated towards Jehoiachin....   [tags: essays research papers]1797 words
(5.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay on Expatriation, Exile, Immigration, Repatriation - Expatriation, Exile, Immigration, Repatriation Expatriation. Exile. Immigration. Repatriation. These words seem so similar but have such different places in society. Whatever the reason for leaving one’s homeland, the way one lives in that place determines where he will fit into society. It is in this searching for a niche that clichés often form and groups of people become stereotyped. From once small groups, a larger more defined population has grown in which all are intertwined creating what one may call diversity or the beginning of chaos....   [tags: Expository Essays]449 words
(1.3 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Tibetan Government in Exile Essay - Tibetan Government in Exile The Tibetan government-in-exile functions both adequately and admirably in the role of supporting Tibetans both in exile and in Tibet. While Chinese explanations for considering Tibet a part of China are most often reasonable, they tend not to reflect the nature of the relationship between the two countries accurately. In fact, the same can be said of the Tibetan government-in-exile regarding reasons Tibet is not a part of China. The government-in-exile has acted reasonably well in its attempts to regain Tibet, proceeding in negotiations with China and advocating its cause throughout the world while maintaining a non-violent approach....   [tags: Tibet China History Papers]
:: 13 Works Cited
4817 words
(13.8 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Essay on Solzhenitsyn’s Exile - Solzhenitsyn’s Exile missing works cited “In February 1956, the Soviet Union’s new leader, Nikita Khrushchev, initiated a period in Soviet history known as ‘The Thaw’ … Millions of former political prisoners were granted amnesty, including [Aleksandr] Solzhenitsyn.” (Shattan 149) Solzhenitsyn is Russia’s most prolific writer of the 20th century was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a man who rose to fame through his literature. It was Khrushchev’s thaw, however, that resulted in Solzhenitsyn’s exile....   [tags: Russian European History Papers]2077 words
(5.9 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

“My arms out like Jesus’s on his cross,” (22) illuminates her faith in religion and family and how it helps her to stay positive. “Stroke by difficult stroke” is symbolizes the speaker’s family’s escape, and it again stresses how much the family is struggling. The poet uses an alliteration in “Dark, deserted” (37) to create the mood of fear. The family struggles with the fact that they have to leave their country, and “Your eyes scanned the horizon” (40) suggests that the family is trying to remember their country for one last time. When they go the new land, New York, the speaker feels isolated in her exile, especially when she sees a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, and her father has to explain that it part of the “genetic code”. “Superimposed, big eyed, dressed too formally” (63) is a good example of imagery that accentuates the speaker’s feeling of isolation through being exiled.
Throughout the poem, the speaker faces hardships from her exile to the United States as if it is learning to swim and then swimming and on and on. Even when the speaker goes to the United States, she still feels as trying to stay afloat because she does not fit in the culture of America. The speaker’s state of mind is revealed when she states “All night in fitful sleep, I swam” (38). Nevertheless, the poet ends the poem with the hopeful ending. “Eager, afraid, not yet sure of the outcome,” (68) illustrates that the speaker is willing to face challenges.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *