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The absence of the homeless community in literary texts is of concern to the world of academia because just in the same way literature has educated generations on issues of civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ+ rights, the public’s ubiquitous misconception of homeless people could be altered through understanding this disenfranchised community. Karen Tei Yamashita’s novel Tropic of Orange addresses the lack of the homeless community in literary texts and also shines a light on the ways the homeless community can be seen as more “human” rather than being viewed as a class of species that exists beneath the human race. This paper highlights the various ways that Yamashita humanizes the homeless community of Los Angeles, California in her novel Tropic of Orange. The way that Yamashita achieves this is by allowing the members of the homeless community to thrive in a seemingly post-apocalyptic traffic jam on a major Los Angeles freeway. I argue that Yamashita characterizes the homeless community in a positive light by allowing them to successfully create a self-sustaining community in which they grow gardens in the hoods of gridlocked vehicles, turn larger automobiles such as vans and SUVs into shelters for families, and create jobs for all skill types using visual media. In conclusion, this paper attempts to posit that Yamashita’s ability to give a voice to a group of people that are largely unnoticed, or misunderstood, by the general population should stand as a model for future generations of writers.


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  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3204

  • Event date
    • 23 March 2018

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Anastasia Lin