In the novel, no human-made space functions as a closed system that the non-human cannot penetrate: Even those spaces that humans desire to keep for themselves, such as high-end restaurants, are breached: The gap between his caustic, cynical perspective and the moral values we bring to his situation repeatedly widens and contracts — just as his own attitude fluctuates: Waste makes the protagonist anxious: Indeed, throughout the novel, the protagonist works at two exclusive restaurants, and therefore he too contributes to the waste of food and water, to the superficial and uncritical approach to consumption that he satirizes

I could climb up to some roof and watch the neighbourhood from above. Canadian critic Adam Carter writes: In the novel, no human-made space functions as a closed system that the non-human cannot penetrate: In the background we hear about his former life in Beirut: This sentence clearly illustrates that the taste or quality of a meal matters very little to the narrator; it is simply the fact that he can satiate his hunger with it that gives it value in his eyes. I argue that Cockroach as a text offers this space in particular as a generative and productive place for the immigrant. Click here to sign up.

Of course, Hage ties the artificiality of the identity that she projects back to her relationship with food: The entire novel, in fact, can be read as a prolonged quest for food in a compromised space with limited resources as its narrator must find new and creative ways of acquiring sustenance day after day.

In other words, the very structure that the narrator seems to abandon entirely is required in order for his story to exist in the first place. U of Arizona P, They are obsessive about masking their humanity, their dung, their droppings, their sweat, their curved toenails that grow and never stop growing.

cockroach rawi hage essay

His grandiose register is completely at odds with the unappealing, unaesthetic action that he describes — the scene is aestheticized to the point of making it ridiculous, signalling that it is the symbolism of the experience that matters to these privileged Montrealers. Billions of farmers, forgers, waitresses, and housewives stand on roofs and look around and smoke, hang laundry and contemplate.


In the same way that the narrator requires the structure of the coherent, unified narrative in order to explain how he finally comes to resist the structures of his own society from which his own narrative surely derivesthe critic of Canadian immigration must also occupy the space they are simultaneously trying to radically change.

cockroach rawi hage essay

His word choice implies that he is very conscious of how his actions have impacts on non-human life and that he recognizes the unfairness of causing his fellow creatures to starve: If you sit, wait, behave, confess, and show maybe some forgiveness and remorse, you, my boy, you could be saved. Click here to sign up.

But the worst part of it is that you are also human. The refusal coc,roach fully accept either identity is reinforced by the namelessness that marks both the narrator and his country of origin — a familiar convention of postmodern and contemporary Canadian literature.

Vintage Books, Toronto, In fact, despite the tremendous amount of critical attention that the field of food studies has received over the past few decades, scholars all too often insist on reading eating metaphorically.

By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Recycling and ethically appropriate environmental action might not concern him per se, but his own experiences of water shortages make him particularly aware of privileged consumption habits and their effects on thinking about the use of natural resources I stress this because this is the moment in the text where the narrator seems to be the most accepted by the dominant culture and is allowed to gain access to that world.

You know how to find us. It is this kind of unconventional attitude that underlies Cockroach.

Cockroach by Rawi Hage

Wadworth Cengage Learning, The talking cockroach says to the narrator: Rather, it is here where identity resists closure and is therefore marked by an ongoing continually altering multiplicity. The narrator might not articulate it in so many words, but his use of language signals his recognition of the way that consumption practices are linked to class and cultural background. But whether feeling elevated or despised, he is an extreme creature, isolated, desperate, sensitive to insult, quick to anger, delusional — and in his use of language, magnetic, uninhibited, penetrating, lyrical, disturbed.


While for them eating is about the symbolic significance of food, the narrator is mainly concerned with the materiality of sustenance as a basic need. Greed is the biggest stupidity.

cockroach rawi hage essay

In that refusal, the narrator is simultaneously resisting the traditional binary that Said discusses in Orientalism, which served to construct the opposition between the West and East and continues to construct the image of the immigrant before he or she even enters the country. His job at the restaurant, for instance, is to segregate food from waste and to discard the latter down the drain You are commenting using your WordPress.

He never understood why you would ever need quotation marks. His actions are always complicated by the fact that he tends to cockrlach the attitudes that he criticizes.

Cockroach – Rawi Hage by shaileen prasad on Prezi

Multiculturalism, immigration, Canada, liminality, postmodern, fiction, literature The Canadian government is often praised and, in fact, often praises itself for its official policies on multiculturalism and immigration. The Political Ecology of Urban Hunger. The narrator desires to fit into normal, legitimate, acceptable society because his very survival depends on it, but in order to do so he must transform into someone that he’s not.

Regardless, scholars such as Arnold Itwaru in The Invention of Canada, argue that Canadian immigration narratives often succeed in revealing as well as challenging the myths of multiculturalism by displaying essayy the immigrant is unable to retain his or her culture while simultaneously fully participating in Canadian society.