Departmental Bulletin Paper Murdering the Myth of America’s Cultural Fathers: Reading Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke as an Updated Critique of America’s Frontier Mythology

内藤 容成

(80)  , pp.191 - 215 , 2015-10-30
In this paper, I will read Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke (2007), asserting that, throughout his massive Vietnam novel, the author resists the revisionist discourse to reinterpret Vietnam as America’s noble effort emerging amidst the tide of the nationwide anger and victimhood in the aftermath of 9/11. Like several previous US authors, Johnson depicts the battlefield of Vietnam as an anti-frontier that frustrates American male characters’ expectations to reenact their mythic fathers’ heroic adventures. However, comparing, in particular, the portrayals of WW II veteran characters in Johnson’s novel and O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato, I would argue that the former’s nightmarish vision of the inverted frontier more thoroughly questions the legitimacy of America’s myth about its essential goodness and power.

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