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“America like a cloud”: Alfred Lewis’s Search for Home

Isabel Maria Fernandes Alves

Abstract


Abstract. This paper reads Alfred Lewis’s Home Is an Island (1951) not merely as a novel expressing nostalgia for his Azorean homeland, but one that conveys the image of America as idea and myth. Although the plot takes place in an Azorean island, where a young and restless Jose comes of age, the main character is dreaming about America from the very beginning. Divided between his desire to leave and a longing for his native land—a tension between here and there—Jose is nevertheless tempted by the American stories of success his father and other immigrants tell him. “America like a cloud,” a statement made at the beginning of the novel, reinforces the idea of America as a promised land, a dream of independence, but America is also more than a physical place, it is a home of moral and spiritual value. Hence, I will emphasize the way America as idea may have shaped Lewis’s literary landscape. In Home Is an Island the Azorean landscape is imbued with deeply embedded aspects of American mindset and thought, namely movement and fluidity; in this sense, I will be arguing that a transcendentalist visionary gleam may have informed Lewis’s description of landscape, lending it an ontological expressiveness that requires understanding and interpretation.

 


Keywords


Home Is an Island, Alfred Lewis, America, nature narrative, clouds in painting and literature, immigrant experience

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