Farmworker's Daughter

1605 Words7 Pages
In Farmworker’s Daughter, Rose Castillo Guilbault describes what it means to grow up Mexican in America. Her narrative points to the dividing of identity as well as the prejudices she and her family experienced in California. Her experience is both similar to and different from many of the immigrant groups that came to America before her.

Throughout the novel, Guilbault portrays the dichotomy of holding on to her family’s Mexican heritage and cultural traditions while also trying to assimilate into American culture. She repeatedly describes situations where she and her parents adapt their personalities to conform in social situations. In a sense they had double identities, one Mexican and one American. When Guilbault was in grade school she quickly learned to keep her private life separate from her school life. She reasons, “If the other kids didn’t know about my home life, they would assume I was like them. I could be American at school just like everybody else.” (Guilbault, 2005, p. 52) María Luisa, Rose’s mother also dealt with this struggle during their trips to Mexico. When visiting Uncle Jando, María Luisa is greeted coolly by Tía Lupe, who admonishes her for leaving Mexico. Instead of arguing the subject, María Luisa became quiet knowing she had made the right decision. Witnessing the strange conversation Rose notices, “My mother wasn’t acting quite like herself, but then again, I had begun to notice how my mother’s personality always seemed to change whenever she was around her family.” (Guilbault, 2005, p. 73) Guilbault later explains moments when they were free from the burden of pretending to be one different people, “I loved these road trips more than anything else. They filled me with an intoxicating sense of freedo...

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...ups. Throughout her childhood, Rose Castillo Guilbault struggled to achieve her own American dream, to attend college. Her story, while similar to immigrants who had come before her, was still uniquely her own. Her success can be attributed to the many experiences she had as a Mexican immigrant trying to assimilate in American culture. She recalls this lesson, “Somehow Luz had learned something I hadn’t—that one had to assimilate in order to progress” (Guilbault, 2005, p. 65).

Works Cited

Bayor, R. (Ed.). (2004). The Columba Documentary History of Race and Ethnicity In America. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Dinnerstein, L., & Reimers, D. M. (2009). Ethnic Americans: A History of Immigration (5th ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Guilbault, R.C. (2005). Farmworker’s Daughter: Growing Up Mexican In America. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books.
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