Sunday, November 2, 2008

Garcia Girls

The title of this novel, "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents", implies that this novel is about how the Garcia girls lost their most blatant foreign characteristic and became Americanized. In the beginning, they had accents; they were obviously from somewhere else and didn't belong. But growing up in America, the forces of the overpowering culture upon teenagers who just wanted to fit in took over and the accents were lost. But to look deeper into the story is to realize that it was the girls' father, the proud Dominican, who wanted them to lose their accents and therefore sent them to a fancy prep school for this reason. The story isn't just an account of a loss of culture and identity at the hands of a new one. It's more about looking for opportunities, and doing what's necessary to succeed, and being unique. Each chapter is a clear mix of American and Latin influences, and Alvarez doesn't favour one influence over the other, neither does she reject any elements of either culture. She celebrates the fact that each family, and beyond that each person, is a completely unique mix of everything they have ever experienced and everything that runs in their blood. There is no strict purity of culture; culture is a dynamic hybrid that constantly changes and adapts itself. Each of Alvarez' characters is very unique, and their differences are celebrated in the end, despite some initial reluctance by other characters and themselves.
So the novel isn't about a loss of culture. The only thing that's lost is the girls' accents, but in this process they find their identities and their directions in life.

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