What You Have Heard Is True Themes

Carolyn Forché
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Witness and Testimony

Throughout the memoir, Forché not only defends the importance of witness, but acts as a witness herself, testifying in retrospect to the violence that marred Salvadoran society in the later 1970s and 1980s. Rejecting the idea that witness is something inactive and passive, Forché uses her own experience to show that not only is witnessing significant in documenting human rights abuses, but that witnessing is far from a passive act.

Through her depiction of her own transformation in El Salvador, Forché subtly implies that not every person visiting a site of trauma and violence is a witness. Rather, Forché shows how she had to learn how to be a witness. Indeed, Carolyn when she first arrives in El Salvador is hardly fit to be a witness. For example, Forché writes, “Leonel had complained of my daydreaming, that I wasn’t paying proper attention to things around...

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This section contains 2,275 words
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Buy the What You Have Heard Is True Study Guide
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