Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Presentation: Trespass & The Human Body.

This week, is the presentation of the book How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and how the two short stories I have chosen to do, have a sense of an American Identity, and the journey into it.

The first story I'm looking at is Trespass (page 150 - 165). The main character or perspective in this story, is from the Carla, who at the time of this story, is in the 7th grade and knows basic English (which I will talk about in a moment). The overall premise of the short story is that Carla and her family have been in America for a year and Carla has started attending a Public school, which is a few blocks away from her house. Here, at her new school, she is bullied by group of boys. She describes them as "They looked bland and unknowable, the way all Americans did. Their faces betrayed no sign of human warmth. Their eyes were too clear for cleaving, intimate looks." (page 154) She feels that that these boys look exactly as Americans did. She also watches them talk about cars, the different models and how fast they go compared to others. From here, the story takes a dark twist, with Carla walking home one day from school, where she is followed by some older man in a big green car. It is quite clear what is about to happen, he tries to lure her into the car, but with her basic English all she can say is "Excuse me?" (page 157). She notes that this man runs his words together like Americans do " "Whereyagoin?" he asked, running all his words together the way Americans always did." This is quite a large barrier for her, as she can only speak basic classroom English, she is not used to dealing with this born and bred American. Here her Spanish identity, is still very much intact. This can also been seen when the Policemen are interrogating her about what happened. She can hardly remember words, even in Spanish to describe the man. There is a language barrier between her and the Policemen.
Throughout the story as well, Carla is showing the first signs of Puberty, and she doesn't know what is happening. She is clear that she doesn't like what is happening to her body, wishing to wrap her body up, in the way that Chinese girls had their feet wrapped up (page 154). Her body changing, in a way is a huge metaphor, for the change in lifestyle, and her own adaptation to America. It says "She would stay herself, a quick, skinny girl with brown eyes and a braid down her back, a girls she had just begun to feel could get things in this world." The world she is referring to would be Mexico. Her body is changing, and in a way is shedding her old self, her old relations to her homeland and accepting this new land which is vaster and more prosperous. Yet it does come with its dangers. Her identity is changing, even if she wishes it didn't.

The second story I chose was The Human Body (page 225 - 238). The protagonist in this story is Yoyo (or Yolanda) she is the younger sister of Carla. From what I read, I think this story is set in Mexico. The overall plot of the story, finds Yoyo being forced into not playing with her cousin Mundin. Her grandparents who own a house in this plot, are generally away in New York for most of the time. But every time they come back to visit, they bring back presents for all the children. Each time, Yoyo would always get some new toy, or something to play with. Her auntie Tia Mimi goes with her grandparents as she is college educated and generally the smartest person in the family. On one of the visits back from New York, instead of toys, they all each receive a book. Mundin receives a plastic doll, that shows the anatomy of the human body. Yoyo is jealous he has something that is at least interesting. This in itself is quite interesting. As they are growing up, becoming more mature (or at least their parents wish they were) they are not receiving toys, but books. Objects that they could use to start an education. Seeing as the book is in English, Yoyo cannot read it that well (page 229). Without alerting their Auntie, their Grandmother, slips all the children toys she brought back with her. Mundin gets modelling clay, which Yoyo seems to be jealous of as well, seeing as she tries to trade with him for it, but he isn't interested in her presents. When she does sit down with the book she had been given, Yoyo actually finds it quite interesting, but Mundin comes up to her and decides to trade. But he wants to trade her the clay, for her to show him she is a girl. This is quite a leap forward, from playing with toys and fighting over them, to displaying your body for show (page 233). It is unclear whether Mundin has ulterior motives or is generally just curious. The whole ordeal doesn't last long at all (page 234 -235).
It can be said that throughout this story, it deals with Yoyo having to accept she is growing up. With the gifts that she received by her Auntie, the separation of her and Mundin by her parents, the forcing of her to undress. At the end of the story, the parents of Mundin, find them in the shed (fully dressed), angry she asks why they are in the shed, and Yoyo improvises and says the Guardia were on the property. I guess the Guardia were the secret police, that the family were trying to get away from. It seems that with the intrusion of the Guardia in the lives of this family and their children, everyone is forced to grow up earlier than they would like to.

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