“A scathing indictment of Western policy

The back of the book [Go, Went, Gone] says it is “a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes.”

In your essay, show how both halves of that assessment ring true—the indictment, and the touching portrait. Discuss this material as examples of Pratt’s notion of a “contact zone.” Both sides are challenged by the other, both might respond in varying ways, both might be changed by the encounter or made more defensive or fearful. For example, at exactly halfway through the novel, Richard thinks the following: “Learning to stop wanting things is probably one of the most difficult lessons of getting old. But if you don’t learn to do that, it seems to him, your desires will be like a bellyful of stones dragging you down into your grave” (140). On one hand, this sounds like reasonable wisdom from an aging man; on the other hand, it sounds like someone who has given up and is turning the lights out in the house. Would Richard give the same advice at the end of the novel? (consider page 206). For the migrants, the challenge is of a different sort: “For the refugees, preserving their dignity is an arduous task that is demanded of them every day, pursuing them even when they lie in bed) (280-81).

Sample Solution

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