Julia Alvarez Identity Analysis

830 Words 4 Pages
Identity is a concept that literally shapes a person’s life experience. The way they act, think, and feel are all intertwined both with the way they see themselves and the way other people see them. Julia Alvarez tackles a difficult concept having to do with identity, which is immigration and how a person or a family finds a way to fit into a new country. She has two books about a family called the Garcías who immigrate from the Dominican Republic to the United States, and throughout these books is a multitude of examples and ways through which identities shape people and families, and what affects them. The Garcías consist of a mother named Laura, a father named Carlos, and three daughters named Carla, Sandra, Yolanda (or Yoyo), and Sofía. …show more content…
She returned to New York City where she was born after her father’s opposition to dictator of the Dominican Republic, General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo caused their family to be exiled when she was 10. It does not take much insight to figure out that Yoyo is a fictionalized Julia Alvarez, and that the García family is a fictionalized version of her family. The significance this has in reference to her identity is that writing these two books about the Garcías requires an understanding and articulation of the many internal conflicts a person goes through while slowly assimilating to American culture throughout one’s entire life, one she had to look for within herself. Often, in writing, one comes to these conclusions during the process, which shows that writing can serve to tell a person about themselves. Although Alvarez may have wanted to write a novel that reflected her family and experiences, it is possible that the theme of identity and assimilation was something that became prominent after the story had already formed itself. In other words, people do not go through life being required to provide themes for different periods of their life. In writing a fictional version of one’s own story, an author has the ability to detach themselves enough from their life in order to observe their identity and experiences in a more accurate manner. It is because of this many …show more content…
What she does, in this respect, is present identity as fluid. One of the challenges of immigrating to a new country is often the internal or familial conflict of the “correct” combination of assimilation and preservation of culture. The Garcías struggle with this when the girls start to lose their Spanish and their Dominican accents. In an essay about her own experience coming to America, Alvarez discusses a phenomenon and a saying, “Entre Lucas y Juan Mejía,” that is hard to translate into English, but that people in the Dominican Republic all understand (Alvarez 1748). She says that it is an alternative way to say “between a rock and a hard place,” although it does not exactly express being between two equally bad alternatives, rather it describes being in between in general. She says that being a Dominican-American novelist is the perfect illustration of the in-between that she has felt throughout her life. Alvarez describes one of the scariest pasts of coming to the United States as “losing [her] Spanish before getting a foothold in English” (Alvarez 1749). “I was without a language, without any way to fend for myself, without solid ground to stand on,” Alvarez tells the reader, illustrating with her own truth what she expresses through the fictional stories of the García family. Through this essay, Alvarez actively ties together her experience as an immigrant

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