The Question of National Identity in William Saroyan’S Short Story Entitled “Seventy Thousand Assyrians”

The Question of National Identity in William Saroyan’s Short Story Entitled “Seventy Thousand Assyrians”

“Seventy Thousand Assyrians” for the first reading is undoubtedly interesting and exciting, however we cannot interpret precisely what the narrator means by “race”, what he really thinks about the “brotherhood of man,” the different peoples of the earth and their languages. It is true that contradiction can be found in the text, but this incident in general does not always lead to misunderstandig in literary works. It can have many functions eg.: irony, sarcasm, or unwillingness to reveal the truth in order to make the reader ponder upon the question that is argued in the plot. In the following, I will try to make an effort to find the reason for the uncertainty about the interpretation and ’message’ of this narrative as far as racial, national and ethnic viewpoints are concerned.
As we start to read the short story, in the third sentence we bump into the expression “We barbarians from Asia Minor”. It gives us some information about the narrator’s origin, and only later on, at the end of the first paragraph, do we get to know his current locus: Third Street, San Francisco. Why does he not reveal the place first where the action takes place and   then his origin? One can think it is insignificant, or he says this because he wants to explain why he needs a haircut, but certainly he could have started his narrative with the determination of his position. If we read further on we get a description about the place comparred with other American cities, and in the second paragraph he says he is wondering about America. So now we have found out he lives there, and almost at the middle of the short-story at the beginning of the seventh paragraph he lets us know that he is an Armenian. Indeed William Saroyan was born in 1908 in Fresno, California as a son of Armenian immigrant parents. (So in this case the narrator...