Power Structure, Family Dynamics, and Cultural Assimilation

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Culture is unique to each and every society. It can be defined by such things as one's attitudes, customs, and language and by how they intersect with one's surrounding environment. In Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, the four Garcia sisters talk about the Dominican-American family's struggle with assimilation and the resulting clash between Hispanic and American cultures.


While this dynamic structure could hamper them as a family unit, it is tempered instead by a family support network. A closer examination of the text will reveal how these elements hinge upon each other.
An important factor in the family dynamic of the Garca is the power structure, which is usually manipulated through distance or an intermediary source. This initially arises from their cultural background in the Dominican Republic and from the fact that their family is connected to the Torre bloodline. The Garcas are an upper-class family on 'the Island'; they are accustomed to having servants and their remaining family there still do. The servants frequently serve as semi-authority figures to the children, as illustrated on the first page by the description "When their squabbles reach a certain mother-annoying level, they are called away by their nursemaids" (p. 3). This power through distance is illustrated in the government as well, as in the case of the secret police coming to interrogate Carlos (Papi) Garca. Carlos's response is the classic response to the power-distance, for, being the weaker side of the power balance, he escapes authority by being "absent" (i.e. hiding). ...
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