How to Assimilate into a New Culture in Julia Alvarez's Bilingual Sestina

How to Assimilate into a New Culture in Julia Alvarez's Bilingual Sestina

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The frustratingly reminiscent tone encompassed in Julia Alvarez’s “Bilingual Sestina” works to emphasize the author’s difficulties of assimilating into a new culture. When she looks back and reflects on her past memories in her hometown, she yearns for the same simplistic lifestyle. Correspondingly, the constant repetition of the six end words further expresses her conflictions as she must fuse together two different cultures to truly find her identity.
The author’s diction heightens the confusion and difficulties the English language evokes, as her simple method of communication progressively becomes more complicated. Words are “sifting” around solely as “vocabulary words” it becomes difficult for her to connect and understand this “closed” language. The author learned Spanish during her childhood through past memories and experiences which helped her form a closer knit bond to the language as a whole; however, English does not root any deep connections for her causing her to doubt the importance of words. The negative connotation when she refers to vocabulary words and closed is due to the fact that she is frustrated with her inability to communicate exactly what she perceives as they are not connected to experiences. Similarly, the language seems “frail” and essentially “bottled up” as she is unable to express her thoughts in a manner other than exclusive “translations”. Unlike Spanish, English seems to have a complicated and confusing aspect tied to it where the author is feels trapped because she cannot convey her emotions or relate to it culturally. The repetitions of these words that have a negative connotation draw out the significance behind communication and the true value of connecting to a culture. Overall, the dictio...


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...al path to assimilation.
Overall, in Julia Alvarez’s “Bilingual Sestina” the repetition sheds light on the author’s situation and the difficulties she faces when assimilating into a new culture. Accustomed to Spanish since her childhood, the language evokes an inviting and comforting feeling for her as it also articulates nostalgic memories. On the other hand, she struggles and faces several conflictions with English as she does not currently have memories or passions that are connected with the English culture. By the end of the poem, the author resignedly admits that she wishes to familiarize herself with English and form new memories that will help make the language significant for her. Although it will not be simple for her native tongue in Spanish to fully comprehend English, it is important that we do not let the nature of words limit us and our perceptions.

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