This essay argues that metaphors are not objects that simply appear in literature but are phenomena, contingent on a reader's anticipation and affirmation. This dialectical relation, between the metaphors consciously and unconsciously patterned in texts and the receptivity of readers to notice those metaphors, sustains the possibility of imagining and potentially creating other conceptions of history and community. In Helena María Viramontes's novel Their Dogs Came with Them, metaphors are paired with miracles, and both envision alternative worlds. For Viramontes, the neighborhood grounds the material conditions of characters' lives, yet it figures and stages transformative encounters. Drawing on theory by Eric Santner and Alain Badiou, this essay examines how Viramontes's novel, while determinedly realistic, sustains the possibility of transformation signaled by the metaphor.
Metaphors Happen: Miracle and Metaphor in Helena María Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them
dean franco is professor of English and director of the Jewish Studies minor at Wake Forest University. He is the author of Ethnic American Literature: Comparing Chicano, Jewish, and African American Writing (2006) and Race, Rights, and Recognition: Jewish American Literature Since 1969 (2012).
Dean Franco; Metaphors Happen: Miracle and Metaphor in Helena María Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them. Novel 1 November 2015; 48 (3): 344–362. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3150301
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