What Silence Says: Family, Race, Identity, and the American Dream in Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You

UNCA Author/Contributor (non-UNCA co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Carolyn Schweitz (Creator)
University of North Carolina Asheville (UNCA )
Web Site: http://library.unca.edu/
Gary Ettari

Abstract: This research paper attempts to legitimize contemporary fiction author, Celeste Ng, and her writing as worthy of inquiry in the field of literature. This paper explores Ng’s debut novel Everything I Never Told You and the use of silence in the text in conjunction with the theme of identity. Everything I Never Told You complicates and frustrates the conventional boundaries of ethnic literature and family drama by interverting stereotypes. Ng utilizes silence throughout the novel, highlighting how damaging silence can be to a family through the death of the Lee’s middle daughter, Lydia. However, Ng also deploys the use of healing silence as the remaining family members come back together to reconcile. Further complications with silence arise when readers begin to examine the racialization of the American Dream. Celeste Ng reveals that silence ensnares identity through the relationships of the Lee family and their individual failures with the American Dream. Demonstrating destructive qualities before Lydia’s death and healing components after, Ng utilizes silence not only as a coping mechanism against the racialized American Dream, but also as an act of resistance.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You, Ethnic Literature, American Dream

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