Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother

What makes the text Canadian and not Brazilian? Is it the writing that is well thought-out to be “Canadian” since it was written in Canada? Or is it the author’s place of birth? Or is it because the author a citizen of this country? It can be hard to figure out what is so “Canadian” about a text aside from the authors’ nationality if the reader does not analyze the words used by the various authors in their books carefully (Pop). However, in this case, the national identity of the text is identified by the different themes, characters, and language settings used in the memoir. Placing texts according to their nationality is vital. They do not designate anything that is stable, or at all real, they are just conveniences that are deemed useful. They are of great importance to the countries themselves since countries like they can view themselves through a reflection of their art. At school, the national identity of texts helps teachers in partitioning courses thereby helping students in knowing what to read. Projection provides many examples of texts, which portray the Canadian nationality to the readers as written by the author, Priscilla Uppal, who happens to be the protagonist in the memoir. In this essay, the nationality of the text, which is Canadian, is derived from the memoir Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother and various authors’ contributions regarding the memoir are also discussed widely.

The nationality of a text can be easily identified through careful examination of words used in the author’s book. Despite, citizenship being a better means of the identification of a texts national identity, it has been proven not all that useful since the writer may be a tourist visiting the country and falls in love with it thus writing a story, which praises the country; hence, Canadians accepts his or her work. However, that does not make the individual a citizen, for instance, Mordecai Richler did write the majority of his books while he was staying outside the country but people loved his works. The debate on national identity has been far from over with Margaret Atwood arguing in her book “Survival” that our literature is a literature of victims and American literature is of heroes (Atwood 62). It has also claimed that the North has influenced Canada’s literature thereby calling authors to consider basing their texts according to the nationality of the country, which reflects our society (McGifford 193).

The level whereby Uppal cannot separate her perception about Brazil from that of her protective mother is more illustrated in her 2006 poem “I’m Afraid of Brazilians.” In Ontological Necessities, Uppal’s poem “I’m Afraid of Brazilians” is well analyzed and it is shown that she had profound anxieties regarding her journey to the Southern Hemisphere, “Against all political correctness, and I must admit: I am afraid of Brazilians. I do not like them. I do not like this country. I do not like this language. I do not even like this currency. . . . I am visiting my mother’s country, and I am afraid, of everything Brazilian, I meet (Ontological Necessities 58). Uppal also wrote the poem some years later after having met her mother. She described it as a hyperbolic salvo about paranoid proportions, which counters prodigal returns myths. However, an Indian poet Doshi regards “I’m Afraid of Brazilians” as her favorite amongst Uppal’s works. The poem demonstrates the state of being afraid of unfamiliarity, even if it is a person’s mother and her country. The high level of insecurity in São Paulo is also highlighted in a conversation between her mother and the taxi driver who frequently offers his services to him, Soares, which Uppal describes as “ironic tourism pamphlet.” The discussion is worth being reproduced in full because she hears it immediately after landing and it made her have a quick judgment that Brazil is not safe:

Around Ninety-one individuals perish due to violence in Brazil after every seven hours and about Ninety-one soldiers of American have perished in the whole Iraqi war so far. It is much safer for one to be a soldier in the American army than a Brazilian. Uppal was shown by the taxi driver a group of young children who seemed innocent; however, they were part of a gang. She was told that they would steal not only her purse but also her pants and socks. Sao Paulo is very dangerous, and everyone will think she is an American since no one knows how a Canadian resembles. The gang will believe that they are robbing an American. (Ontological Necessities 67)

The level of insecurity in Brasilia shows how Uppal does not feel safe with the people, environment, language, and the culture of the country. Uppal stated she likes Canada more since she could go everywhere she wants without fear (Uppal 156). The acknowledging of Canada security systems proves that the texts nationality is indeed Canadian.

Through Projection, the animosity between Uppal and her mother continues on every page. Uppal even states in her memoir that her relationship with her mom is like two warring countries, which undergone colonization long time ago and no matter what their separate identities claims, they are still connected by history, shame, and blood (Uppal 118). She portrays herself as Canada in the battle while her mother as Brazil thus shows her patriotism and loyalty to her country thereby defending Canada’s honor even at the edge of the world proves the nationality of the text Canadian.

Uppal compiles a list that has ten things that she loves regarding Canada (Uppal 156) like she can everywhere she wants without being afraid, Canada’s Hockey Night, Political stability in the country, and a passport that does not visa to travel to Brazil. Campos retaliates by claiming Canada does not have democracy and claims she is giving such reasons because Uppal does not want to relocate to Brazil. Though she appreciated how Brazil Mountains and beaches are glorious and her people being beautiful, she is well aware of the chance, she would have missed in Canada if they would have immigrated in Brazil. They would have not been better off from their mother and her family that had high social standings in the society (Uppal 89). The list shows how “The level of difficulty factor in Brasilia is high since not only does Uppal describe the experience of undergoing a difficult but also cathartic life experience in Brazil” (Nayman). It also shows how she would have missed Canada had she relocated to Brazil portrays her deep love for her country thus indicates that the text is Canadian.

As the relationship between the Uppal and her mother continues to worsen in her trip, she manages to visit the rest of the family during Easter weekend. She grows fond of her grandmother who was light skinned, white haired old woman who was very much elegant. She, later on, realizes that her grandfather was a famous pilot in the Brazilian Air Force before being named a diplomat. Her Uncle, Wilheim, is also the head of Air Force and has even met the pope (Uppal 101). She is however excited by the fact that her great-grandfather was a professor, a composer based at the Rio’s National Conservatory, and has a street named after him in Ipanema (Uppal 205). Uppal’s great uncle also wrote a popular grammar book and poetry and her cousin was also a poet. She was pleased with the number of the family members who were artists, poets, politicians in the family thereby claiming that she does not mind embracing the family tradition. ” Indeed, she sets up a new goal for herself: I must work hard so that a street could be named after me,” thinking of the Ottawa Street, Erinbrook Crescent where she grew up, ” the street being renamed Priscila Uppal Crescent” (Uppal 206). The texts show how she was proud of her family in Brazil and would want a street to be named after her in her country “Canada” thus indicating the nationality of the text to be Canadian.

The two spent a significant amount of time trying to prove to one another whose country is great. Thus, Uppal pondered on what type of life she would have had, had her mother taken her and her brother to live in Brazil, she later compares the strengths between Brazil and Canada, thereby suggesting that Canada would win and being glad about it (Uppal 88). The constant comparison she used between those two countries whereby she believes Canada is much stronger than Brazil shows the nationality of the text Canadian.

A contradicting argument regarding the nationality of the text is shown on her first flight to visit her mother in Brazil whereby her Brazilian seatmate told her that she looked like a Brazilian even before she told her that she was indeed. She later replied that no one thinks she is anything but Brazilian when they see her until Uppal says some few words and with her exotic mixed heritage and physical features she is not used to that; hence, finding it hard to blend in. She confesses, physiognomically, that she closely resembles the Brazilian national image than the Canadian one. Her confession of resemblance to Brazilian people contradicts her nationality theme thereby making one to believe that the text is suggesting Brazilian nationality.


The shreds of evidence used in the memoir prove that the nationality of the text used is Canadian even with some few contradictions, which may make the audience to question the authors’ text nationality. However, the author’s patriotism is well proved beyond doubt of her loyalty and patriotism regarding Canada since even after reuniting with her long lost mother and her family in Brasilia; she never gave in to their request of relocating to Brazil. She is a proud Canadian even in her work, where she will never let anything sway her text nationality. Despite Uppal having dual citizenship of Canada and Brazil, which she frequently compares in the memoir, the textual evidence written in the essay proves that the nationality of Projection is Canadian.

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