The Duality of Narrative Voice and the Possibility of Friendship in Jonathan Safran Foer’s “Everything Is Illuminated”


In Jonathan Safran Foer’s postmodern novel, Everything is Illuminated, we see a semi-autobiographical journey in search for generational memory, family secrets, and the display of self-identification through a combination of Joycian stream-of-consciousness narration, picturesque demonstration of words, and magic-realism (Ward 152). Its 2005 film adaptation has opened a new ground for various interpretations toward the relationships among the characters and the influence of the trans-generational trauma. The major comparison between the novel and its film version lies, most prominently, on the identity of Alex’s grandfather, and the indicated friendship between Alex and Jonathan. This paper attempts to analyze the relationship between the two protagonists, the display of trans-generational trauma in two different kinds of narrative: one being Alex’s comic-natured “quest Romance” (Feuer 25), the other is Jonathan’s magic-realistic fable, and how such display alternates the historical accounts. I argue that by depicting Alex and Jonathan’s indicated friendship in a rather oversimplified Hollywood manner, the director attempts to provide a new angle of presentation of a third-generation trauma and wish to shed light on the possibility of its closure.

Author Information
Min-xuan Chen, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2013
Stream: Arts & Humanities

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