The character of Peola in Hurst Fannie’s Imitation of Life, is considered a mulatto type due to her role in the story where she renounces her African-American heritage in order to assimilate white cultural characteristics. The sisters much like Peola also embrace American culture at the expense of their native culture. Though they fail to forge ‘an assimilated dual identity’ and find themselves in contradiction with their ‘bicultural surroundings’ and their ‘alienation’ is characterized by the linguistic trauma in the form of ‘silence’ or ‘failure to communicate with other characters’ (Castells 34). Castells explains how the girls are ‘caught between two languages and two cultures’ and suffer the ‘burden of silence’ (40).The ‘movement back and forth between North American and Hispanic cultures’ creating an ‘eternal quest for identity’ (Luis 848).
Castells however says that the loss of language does not reflect how well the girls assimilated into their surroundings. But rather how their failure to communicate on an effective level with other characters shows the alienation they experienced being part of the culture in the American 1960s (Castells, 2001).
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