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Once Upon A Quinceaera - Essay Example

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Once Upon A Quinceaera

Episodes from other "quinces" covered by the author as part of her research work for this book and also tales from her own adolescent years in America has been weaved in brilliantly. A comparison is drawn between the actual custom what it represents and the present day celebrations, complete with limousines, DJ's and extravagant cakes. The blending of different cultural practices that marks a woman's "coming of age," which is the main purpose of organizing a Quinceaera is brought to light by Alvarez through this book. The tumult of emotions that is associated with adolescence has been captured through the various emotions portrayed by the various characters of the story. The author identifies with the various circumstances through the flashbacks to her own adolescent years in America. [Latinaya, 2007]
Through her book Alvarez highlights on the attempt of immigrants to stay in touch with their roots and culture. Quinceaera, which celebrates a woman's coming of age, her of official transition towards womanhood is marked by lavish celebrations. Celebrations that parents themselves could not afford back home. Hosting a Quinceaera is a lavish affair that could be afforded by the affluent, something a simple Mexican, Dominican or Salvadorian family could only dream about. Yet it is observed that many of the mothers, whom the author interviews, perceive the tradition of hosting a Quinceaera as a significant aspect of passing on the culture of their native states to the next generation. [Valdes, 2007]

Themes
The main theme that outlines the subject of the book is staying in touch with one's root. Quinceaera, which celebrates the transition of a girl into a woman, is an ancient Latino custom. The age of 15 in most Latin nations is marked as the marriageable age of girls. This is viewed as a pre - wedding celebration.

Various sociological aspects are discussed throughout the book, with the help of small incidents. The social importance of hosting a Quinceaera disregarding all cost is depicted through the tale of Monica Ramos, who enjoys a lavish Disney themed Quinceaera even though her father is out of job. Quinceaeras have also become the sole source of livelihood for many. The author speaks of a one Enrique Munoz, who earns a living as a Quinceaera photographer in Miami [Valdes, 2007]

Through the book the writer expresses her ambivalence in the empowerment of women that Quinceaera represents and her own development despite the lack of a similar event during her years of growing up. The feminism that was so hard earned for the author, could possible be achieved by the frivolous extravagance associated with quinces.

Ambivalence is further expressed by Alvarez, when she is "torn between optimism and a sense of dread," for Monica. On one hand she expresses her optimism for the empowerment of women, reminding them of their origins that mark such events, as a girl blossoms into a woman. Yet on the other hand she is devastated by the fate of young Latina girls in America. The alarmingly large numbers of Hispanic girls, who are victims of teen pregnancy, suicide, abuse or are school dropouts. Health researchers are of ...Show more

Summary

Quinceaera, the celebration of womanhood at the threshold of girlhood is a popular trend in Latino societies in America. Sometimes the American sweet sixteen celebrations and the celebration for a girl's coming of age, her "quince" is celebrated together. The overlapping of various traditions, social implications and the attempt to be in touch with ones roots, living in a foreign nation; is portrayed through the use of ambivalence in Julia Alvarez's book - Once upon a Quinceaera.
Author : hpollich
Once Upon A Quinceaera essay example
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