Of A Butterfly In El Barrio Or A Stranger In Paradise Analysis

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Home is defined and dealt with differently depending on the individual, the environment they’re in, their perspective of it all and reaction to it. With New York City being the home for many Latinas/os seeking a new life in the United States away from issues that may have risen from their home country, many communities group together through the common thread of trying to find some type of safe haven. Thus, there are prominent neighborhoods throughout the city that house these particular groups, such as Washington Heights and East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem and El Barrio, that provide a community for these Latinas/os in these situations. Over their years within these communities, many cultural pieces have come out gauging how the…show more content…
His poem, “of a butterfly in el barrio or a stranger in paradise”, creates a paradise of El Barrio by idolizing normally unideal aspects of a community in order to come to terms with his and his people’s circumstances. He develops this idea through his humoristic tone, the depiction and development of identity, and the loose structure of the poem. Starting out with the title of the poem, “of a butterfly in el barrio or a stranger in paradise”, Meléndez starts off by letting the reader know 2 things through an event that occurs. With the presence of the word “or” between the two phrases, he is saying that the butterfly is a stranger to “el barrio”, which is a direct reference to where he is from, Spanish Harlem. Along with that, he is directly linking his home to paradise, which sets the tone of his idolization of “el barrio” as paradise. The poem then begins with the single…show more content…
The third and fourth stanza show him becoming much more loose in his presentation of thoughts, while also having a lot of slashes. In these lines, he is describing the different places in which people gather together to watch the stickball team and the Saturday evening gang-fights. The use of the slash in these lines seem to show clearly here that he isn’t always certain if particular things are supposed to go together, thus giving space between those thoughts and also giving what seems to be alternatives to the ideas presented previously. Although there is a very similar sense in which these two places provide a disconnect from society to watch these forms of entertainment, both serve a different purpose and thus are given space to allow themselves to live within their own being. The humoristic tone also becomes a bit more frequent within these stanzas as he provides the self-deprecating name of the stickball team, being “‘the new york junkies’”, a play on words of the name New York Yankees. This serves as an example in which he idolizes the normally unideal aspects of a community, as the team embraces the association they have with being drug users and make a joke of it in order to make it their own. Also, seeing the gang fights as a source of entertainment shows how he is normalizing this way of life that would be out of
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