Guava And Apple In When I Was Puerto Rican

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The Significance of the Guava and Apple in When I Was Puerto Rican Food is often used as a symbol for cultures, but it can easily become a stereotype. In the novel When I Was Puerto Rican, by Esmeralda Santiago, she begins with a prologue entitled “How To Eat a Guava”, as she explains in detail, the proper way to eating one. She plays into this stereotype, using guavas to represent Puerto Rican culture and apples as American culture, to express the life she had growing up. There is a subtle sense of sarcasm in her prologue to amuse those who are ignorant. Santiago creates an idea of a tricky and exotic fruit, letting her readers believe it takes experience and knowledge to fully understand a guava. The prologue could very well have been titled…show more content…
The fruit brings her back to moments of raiding guava bushes and late summer afternoons under the mango tree; but the feeling goes as fast as it comes as she moves towards the apples and pears of her adulthood and remembers she is in New York, and no longer a child (3-4). It is a reminder of the simple and carefree experiences prior to her transition to America, as it is the last thing she literally holds onto the day she leaves home. The transition between the two cultures is almost forced upon, as Santiago is made to believe an American lifestyle is less complicated. She describes the ignorance in Americans when she says, “If you don’t know how to eat a guava, the seeds end up in the crevices between your teeth”; the seeds represent their perception of her culture as complicated, almost unhealthy way of living (3). They teach her a way to care for her teeth and present her a chart of major food groups suggesting, “it is best not to make substitutions for recommended foods” (67). Rather than learning from her culture and infusing it to theirs, they find a way to distant her from it by enforcing a new
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