There There Themes & Motifs

Tommy Orange
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Identity and Community

One of the most important themes in the novel is the importance of Native identity and community for a people who has been oppressed and denigrated for hundreds of years. Since Europeans first arrived in the Americas and began their hegemony, they took over the right even to define Native identity, select the locations of communities, and choose who belonged and who did not. The Prologue and Interlude explore historical examples, including the development of the Native Blood Quantum system, in which percentage of Native ancestry determined membership or non-membership in a tribe. Although these rules seem to shore up the existence of a Native identity, the underlying goal was eradication: if enough people intermixed with other populations that their ancestry percentage dropped below the accepted level, they would be forced to integrate. The reservation system presents a similar blow: it seems to offer...

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This section contains 4,671 words
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Buy the There There Study Guide
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