Essay PreviewMore ↓
Helena Maria Viramontes grew up in Los Angeles where relatives used to stay and live with her family when making the transition from Mexico to the United States. This is where she got her first taste of the lives of immigrants in this country within the urban barrios. Viramontes's writing reflects this theme along with expressing her political opinions on the treatments of immigrants, especially Chicanos and Latinos. In her short story "The Cariboo Café," Viramontes brings these ideas to life through three sections narrated by different individuals tied into the story.
"The Cariboo Café" is a story of Chicano immigrants and a Central American refugee. Along with these characters is the owner of the Cariboo Café, who comes in contact with the others. The story progresses in three short sections. Each section involves a different scenario and is told from the point of view of a different narrator. The three separate settings do not fully come together until the end of the last section. This approach makes the story initially very complicated to understand and difficult to connect the sections as a coherent stream of events. However, it is possible that this was Viramontes's intent. Perhaps the situations presented in the story were ones that posed this amount of confusion and frustration in real life to those who lived through them. Maybe Viramontes needed to convey in her story that what really happened in the urban barrios of Los Angeles never really made sense to anyone.
The opening section of this story is a third person narrative. The narrator immediately introduces a poor Chicano family with two young children. A few initial facts that the reader picks up in the opening paragraph are that both parents have to work, the children often play by themselves in back allies and carry their own keys, and the father has warned the children to always avoid the police.
Viramontes sets a disconcerting tone by introducing that it is night time and Sonya, the young girl, has lost her key and cannot let her younger brother, Macky, and herself into their apartment. The first few paragraphs succeed in showing that Sonya is responsible and protective of her brother despite her age as she chases after him to keep him out of the street.
How to Cite this Page
"Immigrant Tragedy in The Cariboo Café by Viramontes." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Nov 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Helena Maria Viramontes’ “The Moths” I was initially drawn to Helena Maria Viramontes’ story “The Moths” due to the striking similarities between the narrator’s experience and my own experience with being thrust into the role of caretaker for a dying loved one. By tracking a young girl’s transformation through dealings with subjugation (by her culture), freedom (through her grandmother), death (of her grandmother) and grief, Viramontes successfully paints an endearing tale of change. “The Moths” emphasizes the narrator’s oppression by her household’s religion and by the social structures associated with it, juxtaposed by the freedom for development available within the native curandera cu... [tags: Moths Viramontes Essays]
1672 words (4.8 pages)
- The United States cannot afford to lose the economic gains that come from immigrant labor. The economy would be suffering a greater loss if it weren’t for immigrants and their labor contributions, especially during the 2008 U.S. recession. The U.S. economy would most likely worsen if it weren’t for the strong labor force immigrants have provided this country. Despite the mostly negative views native-born Americans have towards immigrants and the economy, their strong representation in the labor forces continues today.... [tags: economic gains, immigrant force]
1273 words (3.6 pages)
- Revelation and Rebirth in Helena Viramonte's The Moths The famous phrase "looks may be deceiving" strongly pertains to Helena Viramontes's short story, "The Moths." The story, instead of focusing the creatures in the title, is actually about a young girl who comes of age as she is faced with the deterioration and death of her grandmother. Even though the title, "The Moths," seems to have no relevance at the beginning, these creatures help to portray a sense of spirituality, rebirth, and become, finally, an incarnation of the grandmother.... [tags: Helena Viramontes The Moths Essays]
997 words (2.8 pages)
- ... People in this period will have more individual understanding because they have chance to choose they life they want to live. It also means this period is not only the most important time for assimilation but also the most struggling time. Just as what Eric’s mentioned in “Notes of a Native Speaker”, “Being an ABC certainly affected me another way. It made me feel like something of a greenhorn, a social immigrant”. Most offsprings of immigrants will have the same confusion because they get their early education from their parents, but after experiencing social contacts(generally after they go to school), a new sense of value from the society will refresh their brains.... [tags: Culture, Cultural assimilation]
886 words (2.5 pages)
- What academic struggles will be happened on immigrant students. What kind of thoughts will be brought up to them. In The Happiness Hypothesis, Johnathan Haidt talks about negatively bias in “Changing Your Mind”. This chapter is the best to describe the situation of the immigrant students. According to Kim and Diaz in "Immigrant Students And Community Colleges”, they state that “immigrant students who attend community colleges tend to have lower socioeconomic status and limited English knowledge compared to those who enter four-year institutions.” (93) Many immigrant students have to do part time and face demanding work at school.... [tags: academic struggles, immigrants students]
1590 words (4.5 pages)
- Helena Viramontes' short story, "Miss Clairol," takes the reader through a day in the life of Arlene, a single Hispanic mother, and her daughter, Champ. They begin their day at K-Mart in search for just the right beauty products for Arlene because she is going on a date that evening. After leaving without paying, they spend the day at home. Arlene prepares for the date while Champ assists her, watches television, and fixes herself dinner. Once Arlene is sufficiently fixed, she leaves for the date, ignoring Champ as she yells goodbye.... [tags: short story, Miss Clairol]
1625 words (4.6 pages)
- ... Ergo, the tragic form transcends from the Ancient Greek era in tragic pleasure alongside the contextual mythologies that engender tragedy as a catalyst for political and social change. Integral Myth Mythology has transcended from its ancient prescientific function as a pre-rational connection to the past to become a more ubiquitous cultural identity. In modern times, myth has espoused a practical function to reinforce moral codes and justify the social order. This becomes critical for a culture in order to form a concept of continuity within a culture, promising the hope of a future.... [tags: Tragedy, Sophocles, Greek mythology, Euripides]
1564 words (4.5 pages)
- Language Separation in Immigrant Families In America, each family usually has a standard language spoken in the household. Communication is easy and mothers can talk with their children and they can connect with them. Some people who have this benefit are unaware that some families do not have this advantage in their homes. Lee Thomas and Linh Cao understand that some families have language change through each generation. Cao herself lived in house where her relatives used several different languages and learned first hand that there are many losses when a family doesn’t share a common language.... [tags: Immigrants Immigration Essays]
695 words (2 pages)
- Story of a Romanian Immigrant Immigrating to the United States in not a simple process. Millions immigrate to America but many millions more are denied a visa or forced to cross the border illegally because of the limited number of applicants that the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, now a department of Homeland Security, provides as well as the extremely stringent process that is imposed upon migrating applicants. Even getting a simple tourist visa can be a tiring ordeal and beyond reach of most foreign citizens who are not wealthy.... [tags: Interview Immigration USA Immigrants Essays]
1753 words (5 pages)
- Immigrant Workers in Phoenix Before the sun even rises in Phoenix, out of the closing shadows of night, dark and quiet silhouettes begin to appear. They are the silhouettes of working men who rise before the sun rises, each with the hope of obtaining work and earning money to help support their families. These men are usually assumed to be immigrants without the proper paperwork to work in the United States. They are also better known as day laborers. These so-called “day laborers” congregate on street corners or in the parking lots of builders’ stores awaiting the arrival of employers who will hire them for a day’s work.... [tags: Immigration Labor Immigrants Essays Papers]
948 words (2.7 pages)
The second section begins at this same place, "the double zero café." However, the voice of the narrator is noticeably different. It takes a turn to the first person as opposed to third person. In addition, the reader quickly discovers that this is the voice of a middle aged man who owns the café. As opposed to the speaker in the previous section, this man is slightly crude, curses often, and uses slang. For example, the fifth paragraph opens like this:
I swear Paulie is thirty-five, or six. JoJo's age if he were still alive, but he don't look a day over ninety. Maybe why I let him hang out cause he's JoJo's age. Shit, he's okay as long as he don't bring his wigged out friends whose voices sound like a record at low speed. Paulie's got too many stories and they all get jammed up in his mouth so I can't make out what he's saying. He scares the other customers too, acting like he is shadow boxing, or like a monkey hopping on a frying pan.
This passage gives one a taste of how this character speaks. It also introduces new people: Paulie a man who frequently visits the café, and JoJo, his son, who the reader understands has died.
The speaker also talks of Nell, his ex-wife. Though there were things that annoyed him about her, he still speaks fondly of her. For instance, he remarks, "That's why Nell was good to have round. She could be a pain in the ass, you know, like making me hang those stupid bells, but mostly she knew what to do." This allows the reader to see that the loss of his family has had a deep impact on him. He misses his wife and son and speaks of how families should be together, though his never will be again. This is what provokes him to do what he did next.
The speaker sees a young sister and brother come into the Cariboo Café with their mother. He also sees this same woman and children on T.V. with the report that the woman kidnapped these children. He states that he does not ordinarily get involved in affairs like these; however, when the police show up at the café, he points them toward the bathroom where the woman and two children are.
The third section changes speakers once again. The reader is now getting a first person narrative of a Central American refugee woman. In the first paragraph she speaks of her son, Geraldo, who has been taken away from her and put in the detainers. Her voice is much less harsh than the previous speaker. Hers is softer and pleading. Her tone is one of desperation, desperation for losing her only child. She pleads,
It is such delicate work, Lord, being a mother. This I understand, Lord, because I am, but you have snapped the cord, Lord. It was only a matter of minutes and my life is lost somewhere in the clouds. I don't know, I don't know what games you play, Lord
Later into the section, the speaker believes she sees Geraldo. She expresses joy for being with him. She talks of bathing him again and watching him sleep along with the young girl who watches over him. Soon they change scenes and are in the café with the bells jingling and the cook watching them. The cook recognizes the children he has seen on occasion before. The police show up and Geraldo is once again taken away from her, causing the woman to become hysterical.
This scene is the most complicated to comprehend in the entire story. It is very difficult to decipher how the two children, the cook, the women, and Geraldo all connect to each other. However, it is in this ending that the reader begins to see that they are all one story, not three separate ones.
Throughout the confusion of the final page it begins to become apparent that Geraldo is not really Geraldo. In actuality it is Macky. This woman who is going mad from the loss of her son spotted Macky in the Cariboo Café the night the he and his sister got lost. In her delusional state of mind, she mistook him for her own son and took him home. Of course, Sonya was unwilling to part with her brother and she followed them. Therefore, this woman inadvertently kidnapped these two young children, and the cook at the café turned them in to the police.
The situation is not clear to the reader at first. The incoherent nature of the story requires a few rereads before the truth begins to unveil itself. The confusion represented in the format that Viramontes presents is reflective of the confusion in the refugee woman's state of mind. Reality has become unintelligible for her and the words of the story often seem the same.
Overall, the story takes a political stand against the treatment of immigrants in the United States. It displays the tragedies brought about within the urban barrios and the dangers that exist there. The reader clearly sees a more violent and sad image than is usually portrayed of life in America.