Dinner at the Center of the Earth Themes & Motifs

Englander, Nathan
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The "Enemy"

In the novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth, characters are relentless in their pursuit of the “enemy.” The repetition of the phrase “the enemy” reinforces the ubiquitous enemy-making amongst all characters. The “enemy” is always described as occupying the opposing “side,” or being “from the other side” (18). Physical barriers and borders exist to separate one’s people from one’s enemies.

There is often a plurality associated with “the enemy.” In his limbo-like state, the General considers: “The enemy, they fight beautifully” (56). This plurality seemingly dehumanizes the group of enemy peoples, reducing them to a singular mass. To refer to an entire group as a singular enemy is to remove immediate thoughts of the individual, depersonalizing the fight in order to aid in one’s ability to kill the individual targets. The General, who has “endless enemies” (142), must minimize his consciousness of the...

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This section contains 2,337 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Dinner at the Center of the Earth Study Guide
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