Yolanda's Identity In The Four Girls And The Raven

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A person’s identity is shaped by the experiences and struggles that help them grow. For some, it is difficult to determine their true personality. Yolanda is the second youngest of the four sisters in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Her parents and three sisters affect her life by the relationships they have with Yolanda. The family’s Dominican and American cultures often clash, causing even more confusion and disorientation in her life. These circumstances force Yolanda to adapt to new settings and cultures. She is constantly struggling to figure out the world and where she belongs in it, all while growing into a woman and having many shifts in her environment. Because of this, Yolanda’s personality continuously changes throughout…show more content…
Laura tells stories about her daughters’ childhoods in “The Four Girls”. Yolanda’s story shows her independence, as well as interest in poetry. In the story, Laura and Carlos board a crowded train with her when she was just a toddler. When they arrive at their destination, they realize Yolanda is nowhere to be seen. Her parents frantically search for her, and eventually find her cheerfully reciting Edgar Allen Poe, author of The Raven, to a group of people. In a later chapter, “Joe”, a raven comes out of Yolanda’s throat and lands on her bureau. It then attacks Dr. Payne, her doctor that she is in love with. Alvarez writes that “She tries to laugh, but instead of laughter, she feels ticklish wings unfolding like a fan at the base of her throat. [...] A huge, black bird springs out; it perches on her bureau, looking just like the etching of the raven in Yo’s first English poetry book.” (82). In this quote, the author relates the black bird to Yolanda’s childhood. When Yolanda was a child, it is clearly shown that she had an interest in writing. From the train incident to the teacher’s day speech she is asked to write, Yolanda is not afraid to speak her mind. However, as an adult she decides to stop writing. She also eventually becomes allergic to certain words like “alive”, “love”, and her own name, “Yolanda”. It is evident that as Yolanda’s life progresses, she…show more content…
When she returns to the Dominican Republic as an adult, she does not feel welcomed by her family. The family tries to welcome her by baking a cake, but they also ridicule her and make fun of the way she looks. She decides to go pick guavas, because she was craving them. She explained that they were her “antojo”, which translates roughly to “craving” in spanish. ‘“I’ll tell you what my santo wants after five years,’ Yolanda says. ‘I can’t wait to eat some guavas’” (Alvarez 8). After going back home after five years, she misses the culture of her country. The search for guavas is a metaphor for her search for confidence and fulfillment. She does not feel welcome in her home, even with her family supporting her. Yolanda struggles with finding out who she is. Going on a trip to find guavas is a way to find freedom from her family, while also appreciating the culture of her country. Wendy Perkins writes “During her search for the fruit, she encounters a more pronounced sense of class conflict and sexism than she has found in America. Thus Yolanda is in effect caught between two cultures: she looks to her homeland to provide her with a more complete sense of herself, but at the same time, recognizes that she has been Americanized enough to be unable to return to a more traditional way of life” (Perkins 4). This relates the guavas, which represent Yolanda’s Dominican culture, to the culture she saw during
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