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American Dirt


"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow
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Discuss American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins:
Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

Created: 02/06/20

Replies: 14

Posted Feb. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2143

Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

When Luca finally crosses over to the United States, he's disappointed: "The road below is nothing like the roads Luca imagined he'd encounter in the USA. He thought every road here would be broad as a boulevard, paved to perfection, and lined with fluorescent shopfronts. This road is like the crappiest Mexican road he's ever seen. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt" (chapter 31, page 329). Discuss the significance of the title, "American Dirt". What do you think the author means by it?


Posted Feb. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 180

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I think the title represents the fierceness that both North and South Americans fight for the land or what each perceives to be their right to live on the land.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cyndys

Join Date: 02/10/20

Posts: 4

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

Maybe the title has something to do with the fact that the land on each side of the border is the same dirt but so different in many other ways. I was curious about the title and was hoping Cummins would explain.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 220

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

Haven't a clue--in my mind I saw the desert of the American West north of the dirty dusty towns of Mexican border towns. All the same to look at, including the dirty dusty towns on the American side of the border.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dawng

Join Date: 02/08/20

Posts: 7

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I hadn't thought about what the meaning of the title was, but, I do agree with "cyndy's" post that it might have to do with the dirt on both sides of the border looking exactly the same but when you step from one side to the other nothing could be more different.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Navy Mom

Join Date: 04/12/12

Posts: 221

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

The Title was always in the back of mind as I was reading. It just didn't seem to fit to me other than the fact they were trying to get to the U.S. When Soledad spit onto the American ground I saw the significance of the title. American Dirt is Hope. And getting to that Dirt means everything. Each traveler loses everything to gain everything. It was like the author replaced American Dream with the word Dirt. It meant everything to get there to survive but it really isn't a dream when they finally make it.


Posted Feb. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Andrea

Join Date: 08/31/18

Posts: 22

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I would like to think that it poses the question about what makes one American soil better than another, but there is this little gnat of an idea buzzing around in my head. Could it possibly refer to how some folks in one American territory view migrants from another regardless of their common ties? With a child's innocence, could Luca be reflecting upon this?

Great, now this question is going to bother me until I find out.


Posted Feb. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cathyoc

Join Date: 04/26/17

Posts: 98

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

Years ago when walking back over the border at Nogales my 10 year old son was questioned by a border guard as to where he lived, when he answered America, the guard laughed and responded that he was already in America. We in the states incorrectly use the term America to describe our land. In truth North, South and Central American citizens are all Americans. I thought of the title as the dark and dangerous events that go on in the Americas.


Posted Feb. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 143

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

Hmm. I have not seen or heard anything the author has had to say about the title and I have listened to a couple of podcasts where she was interviewed and have read several articles about the book. So, no clue. Also remember, often the publisher has more impact on a title than an author does.


Posted Feb. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 241

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

Perhaps the people who have traveled for so long are expecting to find paradise and this is not the case, American Dirt! Some will make a living in America, the land of dreams, some will not.


Posted Feb. 17, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 211

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I've really thought too long about this question... haha and I'm not sure I've really formulated a coherent thought. In another thread we were reminded that residents of the United States have co-opted the term American, when really, it is used to describe pretty much everyone living in the Northwestern and Southwestern hemispheres.

Luca was expecting something different when he crossed the border into El Norte, but what he discovered is that the dirt was exactly the same- -as I'm sure the dirt down the mountain and out of the cloud forest was the same. So American dirt in Central America is the same as American dirt in Mexico is the same as American dirt in the United States. Maybe we are too focused on the differences, rather than the similarities.

Just like people. No matter what America a person is from, it seems to me they all want to be safe; not be violated or have their homes ransacked; make a living that allows them to support their families; and be treated with dignity.


Posted Feb. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
TLVZ721

Join Date: 03/26/18

Posts: 16

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I think my answer would have been different had I not read the author's note at the end. But I believe the title "American Dirt" leads us to think that it solely represents the journey to the United States. However, I think, after Luca's observation that the ground doesn't look any different than where he just was represents that it is ALL American dirt, meaning North America, Central America, and South America, where the largest portion of the migrants have crossed during their northern migration. As I said, my thought may be heavily swayed by the author's note, but I think American dirt means many different things.


Posted Mar. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judir

Join Date: 06/18/17

Posts: 2

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I was thinking about the difference of using the term dirt instead of soil. How often do you see people return to the U.S. and praise being back on American soil. Does dirt have a less than meaning? I’m here but it’s not as great as being back on the soil? Something to think about.


Posted Mar. 06, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gerrieb

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 33

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I have a variety of ideas rolling around my mind concerning the title choice. Was it selected to emphasize that the entire area of contention is American dirt and to remind us that these people are also Americans and while governments have drawn lines in the dirt it is still all the same interconnected land mass? Is it a subtle way of using a double entendre to illuminate the "dirty little secret" that is the mess of the immigration process into the USA? I tend to think it may be the latter. The title American Dirt initially struck me as an exposé and criticism of the entire immigration nightmare that is currently U.S. policy. I didn't know much about our government policy until the recent news coverage of mass roundups and deportations. Like many of my neighbors it was the video of the children crying as they were taken from their parents and the metal cages with silver blankets with no beds that made me really sit up and take notice. Dirt can leave a stain and this type of American dirt has certainly left a stain on our country.


Posted Mar. 25, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elainew

Join Date: 08/28/15

Posts: 15

RE: Discuss the significance of the title. What do you think the author means by it?

I think the title simple meant, what people will go through to get to American Dirt. The USA.


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