Literature Essay paper on Shifting Memories in Aleksandar Hemon’s book “Love and Obstacles”

Shifting Memories in Aleksandar Hemon’s book “Love and Obstacles”

Memory has a broad definition as the act of remembering ideas and events that happened in the past times. In many cases, past actions and events often come back to our lives to haunt us, as well as remind us of certain things that we need to know or embrace to be better in our present circumstances. For instance, past actions of pain, disappointments as well as disgrace often haunt us and make us feel discouraged in our daily lives. On the same note, happy times and memories often fill us with bliss and make our days brighter. The author and the readers often have a connection of memory within a literary text. Ideally, time and setting determines the plot development of a book with specific recollections from past experiences and future aspirations. In the process of plot development within the book, the passage of time determines various parts and shifts in memory. Within this time, various cases of memory elements emerge which determine the development of characters as well as the progress within the plot. Finally, cultural memories equally have a key role in literature development. This paper evaluates the memory shift within Love and Obstacles by Aleksander. This analysis will depend on the mode of character exposition, theme domination, as well as the authorial interruptions within the book.

First, the background and context from which Aleksander writes is vital. Born in Bosnia-Sarajevo with a life in America, the writer has earned an incredible share of his life writing much of the war outbreak and certain elements of his isolation and perception of what happened in his life. One special element of his life quite vital in this analysis is the war outbreak that took place in 1992 while still on a program in Chicago in 1992 (Hiscock 11). His memories and imminent transformation after being stranded in this new land leads to a perfect tale of displacement and an apparent shift in memory.

Summary of Love and Obstacles

After writing a variety of books within his lifetime, the book examines a variety of linkages within his various short stories (“The Book of my Life32). Being so distinctive, the story combines a variety of creative extracts as well as haunting relays of a young man emerging from a country that appears cosmopolitan and communist. The young man from Sarajevo will leave for the US after his city gets engulfed in wars that threaten its peace. The story, from the perspective of Hermon revolves around the character’s childhood experiences which are mundane and seem to convey daring acts as well as dramatic ventures in his life (“Love and obstacles” 12). The unique circumstances are also wrenching and similar to the daily human travails within our communities.

The story may emerge to resemble an immigrant’s ordeal and autobiography with fabulous travails worth noting. Despite the varied conclusions, the elements of each story reveal dazzling processes that will determine actual yardsticks in the country of a small boy.

Character memory shift

The character illustrates a sequence of dreams that endears an endless manner of memories regarding sex, violent experiences as well as migration issues. These difficulties come because of the dissatisfactions that emerge through the life cycle of the protagonist. From one instance, the definition of the story reveals a trauma within the exhilarating flux within the Metro system. From the experience in Page 31, the events and actions that happen to the protagonist relates to Hermon’s life that also lived in Yugoslavia and migrated to the States. As the story develops, it emerges that living in a communist land which is on the brink of disintegration is as just as bad as going to another land. The memory cases emerge where the status and connections between the character and the environment are intertwined to determine trauma within the characters. While on the train, the protagonist could hear voices as a Serbian talked of how every country he went to refused them access. These events happen as the character closes his eyes to mean that he actually relates every event and activity to the previous memories as they transcended across his life.

Memory shift is very critical here as it determines the nature of character development and the way that he now views life from the upcoming development days. Following this conversation, it emerges that memory is a structure of realism that will be connected to past events in the protagonist’s life (“The Lazarus Project, 51). Relating these stories to the ideal life within the character’s autobiography, it emerges that first during this time; certain actions in his life did not become pleasant to him. In one instance, he was discriminated upon and barred from entering any country which the two characters in the train are open in a discussion about.

The element of fear is a factor within the memory shift that causes a character to become paranoid of certain anticipations. Taking a look at the manner that the character is scared of the men in the train when they speak of their past, a sense of belonging and awareness emerges. It is a time when the character is scared of the precepts of war and what had happened in his life at a given point.

A similar index to Recovered Memories regards characters as imminent source of confusion. Hatfield & Richard discusses memory shifts from a community quota with special reference to values and determinants of affiliation (Hiscock 14). From a psychological viewpoint, and the story of Reza and Chavez, a semblance emerges close to the Romeo and Juliet’s story. In the story, the daddy is accused of having committing sexual acts which are not appropriate. The couple develops relationship problems which become shattered within the passage of time. Reflecting on their predecessor from Verona, it becomes apparent that romance truly has a modern form of activity. From the story, romantic obsessions have a close connection to the character shift in memory as can be seen within the secrets that become apparent within the plot development. In a way, memory appears as self-deceptive, elusive as well as fragile as the characters try to hold on the shifts and realize that new environments determine new strategies with no close connection to the past. Ideally, from Love and Obstacles, the character tries as much to resist the present with a close reference to the future but fails. It becomes clear that the past determines our present in a very strong way and unless we exactly determine the particular connection, we shall be in cinstant fight (Love and Obstacles 54).

Cultural memory shift

Memory shift through culture within literary elements is a determinant of human existence. Our place of birth and development as well as the norms that we interact with in the process determines much of our actions and activities in life. From the story, a young boy from Sarajevo is in the United States for the first time on a study exchange program. He is stranded in the new place because of war at home and personal problems with language among others.

In one instance, an issue of images overlaps thereby linking two worlds in the stories. Coming from two stories where we have a prose and poetic discourse, the memory of Hermon is illustrated through a reader response that is both critical and responsive. The readers are eager and ready to join the stories within the literary text to the stark reality of Hermon’s psychoanalytic misdemeanor. For instance, the writer claims to have never seen a defensive as well as fatalposition of an object getting a “shrimping” description (“Love and Obstacle” 14). In fact, these definitions recur in the book and reappear at a point to denote a critical round of connection between the gerund and sociocultural background of the writer (Grabes 41).

After around forty pages within the book, a line of trailing threads emerges between varied settings and characters. Memory shifts interestingly in one line to include “everything” beyond the expectations of the protagonist (REF). Notice how Szmura’s room is depicted in the fifth paragraph to illustrate a state of oblivion with the present circumstance (“Love and obstacles” 40).

Another image emerging closely within the system includes the threads of images such as “mercurial discharge” as well as malachite ashtray all of which have a strong origin in Zaire (Fishkin et al 112). In one part, it emerges clearly that the narrator’s connections to the family ties is strong and actually affects his stay away from home. In a paragraph, it is clear that the character is making a close reference to his sister where he says that certain sacred fetish that are unassailable form a close tie to the regimental divide with a neat writing as well as alternative figures (Ty et al online). He continues that the figures wish to for a soft landing where by default, certain people within the Bosnian system have managed to take lead (“Love and Obstacles” 21). In the same line, he says that adolescent males in their multiple forms bemoan their sisters to insinuate the close connection they have in memory with their relatives. While these elements are conscious within the memory of the narrator, another factor that emerges from the memory shift is the reappearance of characters.

Character reappearance and memory shift

Reappearance is a factor of memory that denotes the recalling of factors and ideas or people in the experiences (Ty et al 130). The authors continue that experiences can have a past dimension or a future connotation. In this case, memory attempts to identify the past dimensions of a character as having a close connection to the ideals of the present and probable future indications of an author. From the collection of works in Love and Obstacles, it’s apparent that characters have a knack of reappearing within the book to show the close semblance between every collection and the characters. From close reference in the book, it is apparent that details and certain descriptions are eminent within the text. Characters are also common as Azra is so commonly referred to from one story to another. Referring to the book, Azra emerges as the narrator’s friend from boyhood and the apparent girlfriend as is evident in the first story “Stairway to Heaven.” The story first depicts her as the co-bibliophile of the narrator as well as a faux-auburn emergent. Hiscock (31) refers to this character as a haired literary who is also termed as a groupie and has a close and short attachment to the American writer in the short story at the end of the book. Dick Macalister is not straight forward on their relationship but it is clear that every character in the book has a close connection to Azra which reveals as much on the manner that every experience comes back to haunt one. In other words, the narrator maintains a close connection to every character within the system. When it becomes clear that the Azra is her close friend, they are connected to a romantic relationship that he does not want to relinquish that easily.

Further, on the character as a sign of memory shift, the narrator is unaware of Azra’s name in the last story “The Noble Truths of Suffering” despite the reader’s obvious awareness of the same (“Love and Obstacles” 86). There is an emergent thread between the stories because the narrator at this point is an influential writer in the story with a New Yorker, and has a tinge of familiarity which does not create the memory benefit for the other character in the story.

Ideally, certain elements of memory shift effects radiates backward as one reads through the 190 pages of the story collections (“Love and Obstacles” 65). Apparently, the young poet has a history of surviving through experiences in Zaire, America as well as growing up visiting Sarajevo. The questions that emerge from him is whether the Azra he sees is similar to the one he grew up with. It is amusing that being the influential man, he has become; he can hardly remember the name of his infant love (Ty et al 42). Such questions reveal the real insinuation between the narrator and the new characters that is prominent in the discourse of memory shifts. In one way, therefore, a linkage between these elements are evident just like a dew web with beads of thread connecting one story to the other based on memory and experience checkpoint. The effect of the book, from either a reader response or authorial viewpoint, radiates the vital elements of memory as well as the manner that each subdivision finds linkages within the lifecycle of the speaker and by extension the author Hermon (Grabes 31).

The story “The Conductor” by Hermon within the collection echoes various sentiments within life principles that certain sentiments are worth considerations. Some of these sentiments as illustrated by Hiscock (13) here are that certain demands of life can be pulverized, modified or connected to determine present actions based on the past activities and connections of a person. The story continues to determine the realism of how life can determine false sentiments that are not interconnected in the process of evaluation (Grabes 42). Hermon is very aware of the fact that life is as realistic as living it and decides within the text to determine an actual connections such that every generative forces are illustrated in the prose within the book. Even though the elements of the work do not reveal any traces of romance history, the dissolution of adolescent romance and poetics is evident within the special meetings as the collection progresses. The story equally summons various aspects of tango as well as stereo-styles that cluster the ideals of worldly ambiences as opposed to character structures available. The facts of life are not unique and have a matter of fact similarities that are not controllable within the distinct strictures of the prose settings. While these elements are probable, angles constantly shift within the entries of trajectories as well as departure means. Certainties as well as elements of stabilities find a displacement in the stories as we engage with the real life. From this point does real life and true revelations emerge (Ty et al 73). From the story, “Everything” shrimps enhance a figure material within which the reasons are defended as observed through the story of the character. The sequence of events reveals a material that is verifiable to be somewhat paternal and emanating from the attack in a Slovenian hotelier. The story goes that at one point, the latter hotelier had passed across the stand to meet a delusional narrator weaving through past events to avoid admitting certain life problems.

Additionally, at one point, a recent immigrant had arrived in Chicago and faces an unknown assailant in the maze and quest for identification. Memory shift in this case is reminiscent of the transitory nature that life poses in terms of the subject as well as the aggregate unknown fixture. In other terms, the subject’s life is connotatively shrimped up the corner of nature to repose ideal semblances (“The Book of my Life” 34). Notice from the page (Grabes 64) that the image is pasted on the wall as a way to show that bare misappropriations are disguised within the yardsticks of colloquialism and culture formation (Hiscock 21). Memory shift borders between mischief as the character and narrator reveals certain values about himself that are observables within the stricture. Therefore, the progression of the story from the perspective of Hermon reveals a lucid character and writer who has a sharp edge of projection carrying whiffs of pleasure and pain in memory. These elements reveal how memory shift determines the production of a work of art and the connection between the authorial view as well as the reader response.

In conclusion, memory shifts in Hermon’s book are vivid, exhilarating moments that any readers would react.


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Grabes, Herbert. Literature, Literary History, and Cultural Memory.Tübingen: Narr, 2005. Print.

Hemon, Aleksandar. Love and Obstacles: Stories. London: Picador, 2010. Print.

Hemon, Aleksandar. The Book of My Lives. , 2014. Internet resource.

Hemon, Aleksandar. The Lazarus Project. New York: Riverhead Books, 2014. Internet resource.

Hiscock, Andrew. Reading Memory in Early Modern Literature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Ty, Eleanor R, and Russell J. A. Kilbourn. The Memory Effect: The Remediation of Memory in Literature and Film. , 2013. Internet resource.