Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

October 26, 2011
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In Sarah Vowell’s novel, Assassination Vacation, she seems to display an obscure form of patriotism; she definitively does not always agree with decisions her country has made, but she as an opinion, and in doing so, she cares. Upon visiting the site of the Oneida Community, Vowell states, “But Valesky inspired me to think about the claustrophobia of American culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, how women like me would have given anything for a freewheeling life with Drifter Magnet and Muffin Day instead of being doomed to a choice between Mother Superior and Husband Your Parents Picked. How reassuring it must have been to have this place, to know that it was here.” (Vowell 150). While she may not agree with the extreme promiscuity of Oneida, Vowell sees that this place offered a change, maybe a little hope, similar to her view of America. Being somewhat of a nomad throughout the text, Vowell once again travels, this time to anarchist Emma Goldman’s home, and expresses, “I do believe that anyone coming here has the right to say whatever they want, however foolish, insane, or mean.” (Vowell 221). Despite being an anarchist, Emma Goldman believed in the right to free speech, a very patriotic right, as stated in the constitution; Vowell reiterates this dogma, blatantly exemplifying her allegiance to this country. Moreover, Vowell proclaims her love the Lincoln Memorial and her country, “But loving this memorial is a lot like loving this country: I might not have built the place this way; it’s a little too pompous, and if you look underneath the marble, the structure’s a fake and ye olde Parthenon is actually supported by skyscraper steel. But the
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Lincoln Memorial is still my favorite place in the world and not just in spite of its many stupid flaws.” (Vowell 247). Vowell uses this analogy between the memorial and America because she truly cherishes both, despite their prevalent faults. Sarah Vowell has an odd infatuation with the assassinations of presidents and many would assume this is the opposite of patriotic; however, she displays definite signs of patriotism and speaks highly of her country, no matter how critical she may be.

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