“Brainless Creatures”: Race, Animality, and the Migrant/Refugee in Dao Strom’s Grass Roof, Tin Roof
- Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 74, Number 2, Summer 2018
- pp. 63-88
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This article engages in a reading of the second chapter from Dao Strom’s novel Grass Roof, Tin Roof. The analysis is concerned with a posthuman moment: Hus Madsen, the patriarch of a Vietnamese American family, is accosted by a neighbor spewing racist rhetoric. This article’s title, “brainless creatures” (52), is an invocation of Hus’s conception of a hierarchy that places humans at the top and dimwitted animals at the bottom. This arrangement becomes destabilized by the chapter’s events, as Hus’s Vietnamese American family members are figured by that neighbor as subhuman, parasitic creatures. Such events reveal what Sohn denotes as a neo-yellow peril discourse, a mode of racialized storytelling that renders the Vietnamese American within an ambivalent narrative and contextual position.