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An Analysis Of 'Hold The Mayonnaise' By Julia Alvarez

Good Essays
A Mayonnaise Life “I had plenty of my own reasons to make a potential stepmother’s life impossible” (Alvarez 699). “Hold the Mayonnaise,” is an essay written by Julia Alvarez. Alvarez has also published a book of poetry and a novel. This is a story about a Latino woman that becomes the stepmother for two American girls. The stepmother greatly dislikes mayonnaise and has difficulty connecting with her two stepdaughters. Upon closer examination, there is an underlying argument from this text. When cultural differences and relationships collide, life can either become complicated or it can be embraced. This is justified by the fact that living in a new culture is intimidating, tension can arise in relationships from cultural differences, it…show more content…
“Hold the Mayonnaise,” begins with a Latino mother giving her two daughters advice. “If I die first and Papi ever gets remarried,” Mami used to tease when we were kids, “don’t you accept a new woman in my house. Make her life impossible, you hear?” (Alvarez 699). This small family of immigrants had just moved to Jamaica Queens, New York. Therefore, it only seemed natural that if their father ever remarried, their future stepmother would be American. The narrator includes her greatest fear associated with having a stepmother. “All I could think of was that she would make me eat mayonnaise, a food I identified with the Unites States and which I detested” (Alvarez). A stepmother is often stereotyped as an individual that is bossy, demanding, proud, arrogant, and selfish. The girl that has been nurtured on rice and beans dreads the idea of a stepmother, because it would mean her own dear mother would have died, and she would have to eat mayonnaise. It is more than just growing up on beans and rice. An American stepmother is culturally different and that idea intimidates them. They fear they will be conformed to the image of an American family, eating mayonnaise and doing that Americans do best. Foreigners can experience bewilderment and confusion when experiencing a new culture. The text supports this idea by providing the example of this immigrated family. Most Americans do not even think twice over eating mayonnaise. It…show more content…
Some people will fight against change. They want to go on living as they always have. Instead of assimilating, they stick to their old ways and traditions. Others draw themselves into their own quiet world. This was the case for the new stepmother. “Even now, my first response to a scowl is that old pulling away. My husband calls it “checking out”. I remember times early on in the marriage when the girls would be with us, and I’d get out of school and drive around doing errands, killing time, until my husband, their father would be leaving work. I am not proud of my fears, but I understand-as the lingo goes-where they come from” (Alvarez 700). The stepmother, in this story, has a very unique character. She is not bossy, arrogant, dominant, proud, or exhibiting any stereotypical characteristics associated with a stepmother. In essence, she is the exact opposite. She is trying hard to blend in with her family. Her fear instills in her the needs to drive around town for hours. Does she fear an awkward situation with her stepdaughters when their father is not around? She withdraws herself, pulling away from her fully-American girls. She knows what they are going through, and does not want to hurt them even more. Stepmother and stepdaughter relationships can be strained, and this additional cultural difference only worsens the situation. Instead of becoming better acquainted, the stepmother flees the scene, giving into her fear, even