From ethnic towards transnational : The green library by Janice Kulyk Keefer
Master of Arts
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This thesis argues that The Green Library by Janice Kulyk Keefer can be read as a Canadian national narrative. In the novel, Keefer sets a task to explore how ethnic minorities in Canada (Ukrainian Canadians in this case) construct their identity and how their transnational experiences affect their identification process in the New World. By exploring the stories of three generations of Ukrainian immigrants in Canada, The Green Library shows the shift in the immigrants’ perception of themselves; while the first-generation immigrants cling desperately to the Old Country, and their children try to reject their ethnic heritage altogether, the third-generation Canadians need to rediscover their origin. The urge to redefine their ethnicity often sends them on a “return journey” to the homeland abandoned by their ancestors. This “return journey” involves exploration and rereading of history; in The Green Library, history becomes one of the most important constructs of identity of the novel’s characters. In addition to history, Keefer recognizes gender as one of the major markers of identity; the novel seeks to explore gender relations in Canada from ethnocultural rather than majority perspective. Thus, the ultimate purpose of the “return journey” that the third generation Canadians undertake is to rewrite Canadian national narrative from the minority perspective using what Homi Bhabha calls a transnational knowledge of the world. The shift from an ethnic to a transnational understanding of identification, as well as the recognition of the existence of multiple narratives in Canadian culture, will allow ethnic minorities to accept the plurality of Canadian identity.