Was Isabel Archer a Third Culture Kid?

I don’t know how many of you have heard of Third Culture Kids (TCKs). It’s has its own complicated literature base, with Dr. Janet Bennett leading the charge. There is a pretty good blog about TCKs (click here). Last night I was reading some TCK articles and then went out for a walk the dog to continue on with Portrait of a Lady.  Somehow the two readings must have collided in my brain.  At the end of the walk – just as Isabel Archer realizes Mme Merle has manipulated her, and most significantly that her identity has been manipulated by being in Europe, I realized Isabel is “culturally marginal,” as defined by Bennett. Check out this explanation below and see if it does not perfectly fit her.

According to Interaction’s Director of TCK Services, Libby Stephens, the three questions TCKs most frequently ask are:

“Who am I really?”

“Where do I belong?”

“Why does it hurt so much?”

Aren’t these Isabel’s key questions?



About Dana Carmichael

Dana has a professional interest in Authentic Intellectual Work. This means focusing on improving intellectual quality in the classroom and increasing student engagement. By day, she does this work with a passion. By night, she is a thematic reader, examining a random essential question for the year through fiction, nonfiction, film and general random conversations.
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