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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:
Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Created: 02/06/20

Replies: 8

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2143

Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Throughout the novel, Lydia thinks back on how, when she was living a middle-class existence, she viewed migrants with pity. Why do you think the author chose to make Lydia a middle-class woman as her protagonist? Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?


Posted Feb. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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bestmartin

Join Date: 02/20/13

Posts: 92

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

I think they would have had a different entry point but once Lydia was on the run, I think her story blended with all the other migrants. I did identify with Lydia’s horror, fear and lack of understanding of the dangers she was facing. Plus I was happy to see she didn’t lose her humanity which I think I would have clung to also.


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

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 180

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Yes, I would have received this story in a totally different way if I weren’t able to identify with Lydia. She lived a life that seemed like an everyday life that I could envision and even see parts of it in my own life which made it sometimes hard for me to read Lydia’s experiences as an immigrant on the run. It just reminded me how quickly life can turn upside.


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

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 143

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Lydia’s life prior to the massacre of her family seems like it was much like the lives of many people in the U.S. and that makes it easier for most of us to relate better to her. It makes a good hook for the story.


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

Join Date: 01/26/17

Posts: 20

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

If the author had presented Lydia as a poor migrant, it may have developed a more authentic story but I believe the author developed a more relatable character coming from middle class. I believe the story would have worked from either, but I found the character of a well read business woman and devoted mother being thrown into this dangerous and violent world very relatable.


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

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 220

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Were she poor of course it would be a different book. What I found amusing was that she considered herself poor but was happy to be Mexican and not from Central America because she had rights the others did not have. I don't identify with her at all


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

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 211

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

I think it really depends on each individual reader and his/her personal experiences and beliefs. Soledad and Rebecca were poor migrants, and I was just as affected by their circumstances as I was Lydia's.

By choosing Lydia as her main character, Cummins made it easier for many readers to put themselves in Lydia's place. ANYONE, rich, poor, middle class, can suddenly be thrust in the position of losing everything and having to flee. I think it was important that Lydia was a mother also. Many women are mothers and can certainly feel how frantic Lydia was to protect Luca. I believe most mothers would do anything in their power to keep their children safe.


Posted Feb. 15, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
angelakuemmel

Join Date: 03/11/15

Posts: 10

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Because of her situation, including her class, I could totally relate to her. I kept thinking to myself about how I would do it and what choices I would have made(I likely would have stayed at more shelters and used technology more). I would have been far more trusting to my own detriment too


Posted Mar. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
PostProcessual

Join Date: 07/16/19

Posts: 2

RE: Do you think the reader would have had a different entry point to the novel if Lydia started out as a poor migrant? How much do you identify with Lydia?

Had Cummins developed Lydia from a less privileged SES, she could have fallen too easily into a trope of “working class hero”. Coming from a comfortable seeming SES in her home country puts perspective into the global stratification of class especially calling attention to the differences in what one consider’s “the middle class” experience. It allows for Lydia specifically to have more dynamic range in her thoughts and actions. And really points to how important context is in character development


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