The Leavers: A Novel Themes & Motifs

Lisa Ko
This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Leavers.
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Language

The Leavers uses language as a metonym for cultural association, showing how language is an integral part of identity that can be forgotten but never lost entirely. Deming begins his life as a native Fuzhounese speaker, living with his grandfather in Fuzhou. When his grandfather dies and Deming is moved to New York to be with his mother, Deming begins learning English, though he uses Fuzhounese to communicate with his mother. When Deming is separated from his mother and adopted by Kay and Peter Wilkinson, Deming is encouraged to forget his Fuzhounese in order to immerse himself in English. At the end of the novel, Deming—now Daniel—has seen his Fuzhounese return to native levels, though he still speaks English fluently.

Language is often treated as a commodity or as a gatekeeping force, which can be used either to include or exclude others. This is...

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This section contains 3,471 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Leavers: A Novel Study Guide
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