By the Breath of Their Mouths: Narratives of Resistance in by Mary Jo Bona

By Mary Jo Bona

In by way of the Breath in their Mouths, Mary Jo Bona examines the oral makes use of of language and the freeing strength of speech in Italian American writing, in addition to its affects on generations of assimilated Italian American writers. Probing and wide-ranging, Bona’s research finds the lasting significance of storytelling and people narrative, their influence on ethnic, working-class, and women’s literatures, and their significance in shaping multiethnic literature. Drawing on a variety of fabric from numerous genres, together with oral biographies, fiction, movie, poetry, and memoir, and level-headed in contemporary theories of narrative and autobiography, postcolonial idea, and significant multiculturalism, via the Breath in their Mouths is needs to examining for college students in Italian American reports specifically and ethnic experiences and multiethnic literature extra in general.

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Extra info for By the Breath of Their Mouths: Narratives of Resistance in Italian America

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To be sure, the children of immigrants experience a duality of consciousness emerging from their positions as second-generation Italian Americans. Their ethnic identities are at times experienced as vexatious and unresolved. Nonetheless, the authors of these narratives ultimately reinforce the necessity of a sense of selfhood, that is, as Michael M. J. Fischer wisely explained, “a deeply rooted component of identity, . . 6 Fred Gardaphé in fact understates the case since di Donato’s incorporation of italianità is hyberbolic, producing a kind of manic linguistic style that by turns beguiles and overwhelms with its excess.

Local men . . fight for the honor of their existence” (From Wise Guys to Wise Men 165). Unlike traditionally represented parasitic gangster figures who bully and intimidate their own neighbors (as we see Larry do in Puzo’s The Fortunate Pilgrim), Luigi characterizes his purpose as purely honorable though he recognizes that his outlaw status inevitably requires him to “walk the path in between light and darkness” (In the Garden 85). After he returns from his forest adventures, Luigi migrates to America with Ciccina, whose honor he defended by killing the lascivious baruni.

Gardens are covered with grapevines, dandelion greens make up a salad, men search the Vermont fields for mushrooms, homemade wine and grappa appear on kitchen tables, and women make ravioli and homemade sauce for spaghetti. The Italian enclave enjoys festive picnics (with polenta and homemade wine) and accordion music fills the air. Italians play briscola and bocce, reside on streets with Italian names, subscribe to two or three Italian newspapers, and sing Italian folk songs. The enclosed world Tomasi creates neither excludes other ethnic groups (particularly the Irish and the Scottish), nor avoids the painful suffering of stoneworkers, including Pietro Dalli, who dies from the stone dust, but manages to live to see each of his children grown.

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