The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Essay

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In the following essay excerpt, Davis explores how Stein treats national identity in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, finding that Stein defines it "by what is lacking - rather than by what is present."

From the first page of The Autobiography, Stein characterizes people in terms of their national identities. Although Alice introduces herself as an American, "I was born in San Francisco, California," she explains that while the quality that best defines her mother is her temperament - "my mother was a quiet charming woman named Emilie" - her father is best defined by his national identity: "my father came of polish patriotic stock." Here, Toklas's father is so thoroughly identified by his nationality that she does not bother to give his name, as she does with her mother. Throughout The Autobiography, national labels often replace names. For example, Alice's descriptions of Stein's Saturday evenings repeatedly...

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This section contains 5,205 words
(approx. 14 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas Study Guide
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