English 11 A2
June 3, 2010
Julia Alvarez is a writer from the Dominican Republic. Although she was born in New York both of her parents were Dominican and Alvarez lived much of her childhood there. The dual identity Alvarez was forced to adapt from assimilating into both cultures helped to serve as inspiration for her books. Along with this acquired identity Alvarez felt bound by “el testimonio” to tell the story of the struggles of the Dominican Republic. “El testimonio” is the obligation of those who survive and make it out of the tyranny of the Dominican to tell the story for those who aren’t so lucky. In Alvarez’s story’s she successfully portrays the genuine struggles of people in the Dominican but in a fiction manner. Her dedication “to those who stayed” proves just how real the situation is. The major issue and theme found through out Alvarez’s novels is the language barrio. In How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and Before We Were Free Alvarez uses the idea of a dual culture identity through the struggle of converting back and forth between the languages.
In How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents the use of language as the determinate of culture identity is the primary theme. Even in the title Alvarez confronts linguistic barrios. The Garcia girls were from the Dominican but forced
to move from their homes due to trouble with the police and the Dominican Dictator, Trujillo. Once in America (New York) the girl struggle with English slang and word order. They are constantly ridiculed for their physical and verbally differences at a young age but as they mature them quickly become the more attractive girls. Sexual issues arise for them due to their new found beauty and desperate need to feel loved an accepted but even more prominent are their struggles with language. As children new to America the girls were reprimanded to speak English in school and all other attempts to...