Listening in Graciela Limon's "Song of the Hummingbird"

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Listening is an important skill that many people take for granted. Listening empathelicay means putting oneself in “someone else’s shoes”. Listening only to get information takes away much of what the speaker is saying, by being able to empathize with someone one is on the same wavelength. In this world, there exist many different cultures and subcultures. In Graciela Limon’s novel, Song of the Hummingbird, Huitzitzilin tells her story as Father Benito listens. She tells Father Benito the native view of what has happened- she tells him things that he has never heard of from his people. Huitzitzilin and Father Benito are products of two different cultures: Aztecs and Spaniards, respectively. Limon portrayed that the Spaniards didn’t even try to understand the Aztecs ways. Limon uses the literary elements of characterization, point of view, and internal conflict to show that in order to understand another culture, one must be able to treat his/her’s history with the same compassion and understanding as if it was their own's.

Limon uses character development to show a large array of traits and behaviors that give her characters the complexity of a real human being. In the novel, Father Benito is a dynamic character that, due to the events in the plot, makes a basic internal change in character. In one part of the novel, Father Benito is shocked “to hear his voice utter the words his mind had refused to acknowledge, and he felt objection wrapping itself around him, pressing down on him. He wanted to run away from this women who [has] a way of prying out thoughts and feelings of which even he was not aware” (p.43). After talking a bit with Huitzitzilin, Father Benito has changed from a stern religious priest to a more...

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...to interfere with the “sinner”, Huitzitzilin. Another internal conflict is when Huitzitzilin has to deal with whether it is “his sin, and not the woman’s”(53). In both, Huitzitzilin and Benito has to deal with their internal conflicts so they are able to understand each other. As Benito understand and feels more comfortable, he understands how to be in Huitzitzilin’s shoes. As Huitzitzilin deals with her dilemma, she learns how to care about herself and others.

In order to understand another culture, one must be compassionate when trying to fit in “someone else’s shoes”. One must be able to treat someone with the same care as if he/she is one of his or her own people. Limon exhibits this idea through her use of point of view, characterization, and internal conflict. When people are treat other equally, regardless of race, is when culture are properly understand.

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