Immigrants come to America, the revered City upon a Hill, with wide eyes and high hopes, eager to have their every dream and wild reverie fulfilled. Rarely, if ever, is this actually the case. A select few do achieve the stereotypical ‘rags to riches’ transformation – thus perpetuating the myth. The Garcia family from Julia Alvarez’s book How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, fall prey to this fairytale. They start off the tale well enough: the girls are treated like royalty, princesses of their Island home, but remained locked in their tower, also known as the walls of their family compound. The family is forced to flee their Dominican Republic paradise – which they affectionately refer to as simply, the Island – trading it instead for the cold, mean streets of American suburbs. After a brief acclimation period, during which the girls realize how much freedom is now available to them, they enthusiastically try to shed their Island roots and become true “American girls.” They throw themselves into the American lifestyle, but there is one slight snag in their plan: they, as a group, are unable to forget their Island heritage and upbringing, despite how hard they try to do so. The story of the Garcia girls is not a fairytale – not of the Disney variety anyway; it is the story of immigrants who do not make the miraculous transition from rags to riches, but from stifling social conventions to unabridged freedom too quickly, leaving them with nothing but confusion and unresolved questions of identity. This bewilderment is not limited to just the girls either; the parents experience their fair share of perplexity at the chaos that is America. Unlike their offspring, Mr. and Mrs. Garcia work to retain and remember their Island roots... ... middle of paper ... ... level of self-awareness is necessary to navigate this journey effectively, traits which the family simply does not have. Yolanda has potential to reach some level of self-awareness and thought during her college years, but this hope is considerably dimmed as she becomes increasingly torn between her two cultures. Yolanda is the main narrator in this novel and still has a possibility, albeit slim, of a happy future. This cannot possible be achieved without thought, actual, conscious thought as to how she is going to turn her life around and make her blended cultures something for others to admire rather than something to be ashamed of. American literature does not highly value many novels pertaining to immigrants, however, it would have been helpful for them to absorb and apply the tenets of Transcendentalism and American literature in general to aid the transition.
After her relationship with Rudy ends on a sour note, Yolanda mentions how “[She] became more and more of a recluse, avoiding our old haunts for fear of running into him” (Alvarez 99). Although the relationship ended, Rudy still holds some control over Yolanda even though he is not physically there. Not only did Rudy change her life, but he influenced her decisions and tried to manipulate her cultural values in order to get what he wanted, which was sex. As Rudy failed at changing Yolanda’s views, he left her and moved onto another college girl that would conform to his requests. Not only did this leave Yolanda in shambles because of her past male partner, but she had to find a way to control her -life again without the influence of Rudy. Northampton Review is a class at Smith College studying literary works by Latinas. One student Jen Calabrese mentioned how “Yolanda, finds her romantic relationships complicated by her linguistic and cultural background” (Calabrese paragraph 2). Through the timeline of the novel, Yolanda struggles to connect with the men she finds in America because of the different values she has as a woman from Dominican culture. Her cultural differences led to her Rudy wanting to change Yolanda in order to get the satisfaction he wanted from her. Not only that, but as a result of Rudy’s pushiness towards the idea of having sexual intercourse leads Yolanda
Sandra Cisneros “Never Marry a Mexican” and Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are stories that reflect on the cultures in which the characters grew up in. In Never Marry, Clemencia, the narrator, reflects on her past sexual relations as well as her childhood. She speaks of her parents’ marriage and then transitions into her relationship with college professor and his son. In Oscar Wao, Yunior, the narrator, gives a second-hand retelling of Oscar’s experiences in New Jersey growing up as well as in the Dominican Republic. A person’s identity is largely influenced by their culture, this is especially the case in Hispanic cultures. The social constraints that these cultures place on social class, sexuality, and gender norms can be very detrimental to a person’s self-esteem.
Islas, Arturo. From Migrant Souls. American Mosaic: Multicultural Readings in Context. Eds. Gabriele Rico, Barbara Roche and Sandra Mano. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1995. 483-491.
As you read you can picture his settings and characters. For the purpose of this book review, the reader will discuss how a migrant community in search of the “American Dream” encounters the “American Nightmare” as described by Tomás Rivera in his novel, “ …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him.”
By tracing the roots of Puerto Rican development from the Spanish invasion to today, one can see the influence of the dominant power in the interaction between different races of Puerto Rico, effecting how they viewed each other, and themselves. Isabel’s family, which is composed of Spanish and Corsican immigrants, reflects the attitudes that helped form Puerto Rican racial divisions. While she speaks from the point of view of a member of the upper class, there is a great deal of history behind the attitudes that influence the House on the Lagoon that she only lightly touches upon. Although Puerto Rican society has been racially mixed, issues such as class, imperialism, and outside prejudices have created a split between the different races.
This book is a story about 4 sisters who tell their stories about living on an island in the Dominican Republic , and then moving to New York . What is different about this book is the fact that you have different narrators telling you the story , jumping back and forth from past to present . This is effective because it gives you different view point’s from each of the sisters . It may also detract from the narrative because of the fact that it’s confusing to the reader . This is a style of writing that has been recognized and analyzed by critics . Julia Alvarez is a well- known writer and in a way , mirrors events that happened in her own life , in her book . Looking into her life , it show’s that she went through an experience somewhat like the sisters . I interviewed an immigrant , not from the same ethnic back ground as the sisters , but a Japanese immigrant . This was a very
The 1960s was the time of rebellion and experimentation. Fresh out of high school eighteen year olds who decided to attend college entered into a world of no rules. If you were on your own with no parents to watch your every move would you still follow rules during a time when breaking rules was in? The novel How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent by Julia Alvarez follows the Garcia family throughout their journey in migrating to the United States and finding themselves in college. The sisters break rules as they encounter the Counterculture of the 1960s questioning their traditions and beliefs during the rebellious era. Once students arrived to college they made their own decisions of what they believed in, protested for their beliefs, and have gender roles play a part in their studies. Alvarez demonstrates through her characters that the 1960s was a time for protesting their individual beliefs, standing up for one another, and change in order to bring peace into the world.
After reading The Book of the Unknown Americans, I realized how difficult immigrating to the United States can be. I am an immigrant also, so just reading the story makes me relate to many problems immigrants experience relocating to a different country. Immigrants often face many issues and difficulties, but for some it is all worth it, but for others there comes a point in time where they have to go back to their hometown. Alma and Arturo Rivera came to the United States to better their life, but also so that Maribel could attend a special education school. While Arturo had a job things had gone well for the family, but once Arturo lost the job and passed away the two of them had to go back because they felt that that was the best option for them. Reading this book made me realize how strong an individual has to be to leave their own country and relocate somewhere else not knowing if this will better your life or cause one to suffer.
Before they go to the US, they have an idealized image of the US in their minds. They are pushed out of their own country due to systemic violence and have seen images of the US in magazines that make life there look glamorous. They risk everything they have—including their own lives—to get to “The North” because they view it as a land of wealth and opportunity. However, when they actually make it to LA, things aren’t quite as they imagined. They struggle to find and keep jobs, they live in constant worry of being caught,
As children, we all want to make our own parents proud and accept us for who we are. As humans, we all want to feel loved by those we admire the most. However, when a parent’s lack of acceptance and encourage continues to grow, it can shape a child’s life. Sandra Cisneros, the author of “Only Girl,” comes from a working-class Mexican family whose parents only want what is best for their seven children. Or at least, thinks they know what it is best. The America that Cisneros believes in is a nation full of freedom, which are limited by attempts to certain achievements and capabilities in regards to level of skills and strengths. However, while growing up in two different houses, one in America and one in Mexico, the Mexican culture was favored
The Garcia family truly had a hard time adjusting to the Language and phrases that Americans use on a daily bases; however, none of the family members had a harder time fully understanding what many basic American phrases meant than the mother. “If her husband insisted she speak in Spanish to the girls so they wouldn’t forget their native tongue, she’d snap, “When in Rome, do unto the Romans”” (135). Laura’s improper use of the common phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, proved that the language difference was more of a mountainous challenge than the family expected. ““There is no use trying to drink spilt milk, that’s for sure”” (140) is another American saying that Laura mixed up in the novel while trying to sound more American, but as you can see her efforts were coming up short because of the language barrier from her Dominican
Just as their father wanted, the girls kept their Dominican roots alive and never forgot where they came from. This novel, “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”, is a coming of age novel, where four girls learn through experience how it is like to grow up in a tough time period. In America, the girls had the freedom to attempt almost whatever they wanted because they were free from the constricting rule of the patriarchy that ruled the Dominican Republic. All four were growing up but took separate paths during life to get to where they are as adults. Through the use of multiple narrators, Alvarez creates different perspectives throughout the story. The girls have come a long way from their mother’s color coding system when they were identity less to the women they are today. Each sister fought and conquered some sort of internal or external battle, helping them to overcome obstacles given by society that marked them as different. As adults, the sisters can keep their Dominican roots alive while living in the United States through
The struggle to find a place inside an un-welcoming America has forced the Latino to recreate one. The Latino feels out of place, torn from the womb inside of America's reality because she would rather use it than know it (Paz 226-227). In response, the Mexican women planted the seeds of home inside the corral*. These tended and potted plants became her burrow of solace and place of acceptance. In the comfort of the suns slices and underneath the orange scents, the women were free. Still the questions pounded in the rhythm of street side whispers. The outside stare thundered in pulses, you are different it said. Instead of listening she tried to instill within her children the pride of language, song, and culture. Her roots weave soul into the stubborn soil and strength grew with each blossom of the fig tree (Goldsmith).
Yolanda’s upbringing was strictly Catholic and Dominican, and to be suddenly thrust into a new world with new cultures and beliefs leaves Yolanda confused. For the most part, Yolanda cherishes her culture and religion. But when surrounded by Americans who do things differently than her, and feel confident in the way they do things, Yolanda wishes she could be like them: “For the hundredth time, I cursed my immigrant origins. If only I too had been born in Connecticut or Virginia, I too would understand the jokes everyone was making” (Alvarez 94). Yolanda wants to be an American and to understand their ways. Being different from everyone takes a toll on Yolanda’s sense of identity. She is riddled with conflict between who she is and who she wishes she could be. She sees herself as being worse or worth less than the Americans, and has to face this on an everyday
The Character of Yolanda Garcia in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and !Yo!