My Mother In Two Photographs Among Other Things Analysis

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Emigration has defined the culture of the United States of America since its very conception, when people started to trickle in from Britain and other European countries. However, a seniority complex, a hierarchy based on the amount of time a family has been in the country as compared to another, has defined American culture as well. This social setting constantly obstructs the incoming generation of immigrant families who leave their homelands only to encounter a society unconcerned with their fate. Aleida Rodriguez experienced this tendency firsthand, and in her excerpt from “My Mother in Two Photographs Among Other Things,” she describes the painful and insurmountable cultural rifts that devalue the emigrant’s ultimate sacrifice of familiar …show more content…
Rodriguez introduces her mother and grandmother with the anecdote of drinking “café” in the kitchen while her grandmother reassures her mother with words of “aguántate” and “cálmate.” Rodriguez’s interjection of peaceful Cuban language into the beginning of the story implies its soothing nature. Furthermore, the grandmother speaks the words, indicating her position as a key connection to the past for the family. However, the grandmother dies and afterwards the family avoids the Cuban language, implying that her death accompanied the abandonment of their language. Though the family no longer speaks Cuban, the American language remains just as foreign. Rodriguez describes the violent sense of loss of her original language through the metaphor of having her “first tongue ripped out.” The metaphor describes the figurative loss of her language, but also encompasses a literal undertone. Rodriguez is unable to communicate in the foreign American language because she neither speaks nor understands it, implying the uselessness of her tongue in her circumstances. Furthermore, the family loses its religion in its relocation to the United States. Rodriguez describes a …show more content…
Rodriguez describes the family’s lack of jurisdiction over its own future through the emotionally charged image of “bureaucrats toy[ing] with their time and their fate.” Her parents are unable to determine the course of their lives, and are forced to wait, “uncomplaining and afraid,” for a verdict from uncaring government officials. In addition, the circumstances breed contempt and disrespect from the children because they see their parent’s helplessness firsthand. The children’s knowledge of the situation destroys the traditional relationship between children and parents, intensifying an already alarming lack of unity. Furthermore, their ultimate lack of control is reiterated by Rodriguez’s image of her body metaphorically “drifting downriver” when her mother attempts to hold her. Rodriguez’s “watery absence” finalizes the family’s complete ideological separation for the mother holds only “the weight of emptiness” when she attempts to hold her child. Their inability to mentally be together is the culmination of the destruction of traditional familial relationships, revealing the way one cultural rift trickles into the next. Moreover, the metaphors evidence the family’s loss of identity through the motif of water, as though the floods that covered the rice fields of their hometown have stolen their characters as well. Ultimately, each

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