Expectations Of Birth Order

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The Expectations of Birth Order When one thinks about different cultures, often times the exotic differences come to mind. Take for instance Puerto Rican culture. If I were told to think about that, my mind would tend towards their salsa music and Spanish language, exotic fruits, and their tropical living. I would generally not think of the everyday things that make that culture similar to mine. I would not think about Puerto Ricans going to public school. I would not think about how they get as excited to have running water as anybody else living in an impoverished rural area. It would not even cross my mind that in a completely different culture, people could be having everyday experiences just like mine. Yet these common things are a big part of every culture. The qualities that cultures have in common with one another help define them as much as the differences. From reading When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago, I have learned this very important lesson. I learned not only from reading the memoir, but from realizing one truth within its pages-- The roles and expectations of children in the book depend primarily upon their order of birth. All children, regardless of their culture, have certain expectations and roles. These roles and expectations remain the same throughout the different cultures of the country, the city, Puerto Rico, and the United States. The eldest child is expected to be responsible and in charge of everyone born after, the middle children are expected to do as they are told and pick up the eldest’s slack, and the youngest child is given the role of the baby, forever pampered. Santiago writes from her own perspective, which is that of the eldest child. Therefore, the roles and expectations most concentrated on within the book are those of the eldest child. Within the first few chapters of the memoir, her Mom tells

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