America as the Latrine

There exists an American perspective where other developing countries may seem pretty crappy and have nothing in comparison to great and amazing America, where nothing is wrong.

However this perspective severely satirized in the novel Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera. In this novel, a girl named Makina goes into the U.S.A illegally, and instead of seeing the glorious dream-filled economical fortune that America can be viewed as, Makina instead sees it as a unwelcoming, racist, and perverse place. In the novel, as she reached America she only got “a few dozen yards . . .[before] staring up at the sky” and thinking how already, “it was . . . different, more distant or less blue,” and how one of the first glorious sights of America was thought to be a peaceful pregnant woman resting, who turned out to be a bloated dead corpse. (17, 19)



That’s some pretty clear imagery of expectation subversion, and it continues onward with how most of the American white men are portrayed in the novel. Nearly every single white male that Makina comes into contact with wants to either sexually harass her or kill her. This is seen in Chapter 3 where a ‘Patriot’ calls Makina’s friend a Coyote, and intends to shoot them both. Or Chapter 4 where Makina meets a man named Mr. P who had a belt that “hung a long, thin knife  . . . that Mr. P patted nonstop” while he looked at her crotch and asked her to work for him. Or perhaps in Chapter 6 where “a huge redhead anglo who stank of tobacco was staring at her . . . just itching to kick her or fuck her.”

Its quite clear what the author was going for, and in a way the author is right. Many people view United States as this glorious, perfect country, when it’s very messed up in a variety of ways. The novel goes above and beyond in representing this, portraying American white males as perverts, unwelcoming, easily irritable, and racist. It just goes to show how single-minded and ethnocentric people can be. Although America is good in it’s own ways, it can also be seen as a latrine in others in the way the people treat other human beings who are just a bit different.


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