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Part 4

By: Esmeralda Santiago

When I was Puerto Rican

  • How would you characterize el Mangle?
  • Why is Esmeralda afraid to use the bathroom?
  • What rules do children have to follow en el Mangle different from Macún?

Chapter 7: EL MANGLE

  • How is Esmeralda treated in school?
  • Describe the character Sra. Leona
  • What is the significance of the dead baby in this chapter?

Chapter 7: EL MANGLE

  • Why does Esmeralda like cartography?
  • What is the significance of Papi's arrival?

Chapter 7: EL MANGLE

  • What happened?
  • What letter comes from New York and how does Negi feel about it?
  • How does Negi feel about Mami in this chapter?
  • What “enjoyable” chore does Negi do to feel closer to Mami?

Chapter 8: Letters from New York

  • What happened?
  • What letter comes from New York and how does Negi feel about it?
  • How does Negi feel about Mami in this chapter?
  • What “enjoyable” chore does Negi do to feel closer to Mami?

Chapter 8: Letters from New York

  • What does casi señorita mean?
  • What do you think about the principal?
  • Who teaches Negi piano and why does he ask her to wear specific clothes? (p. 177)
  • Why does Negi wear the dress he requested? (p. 178)
  • How does he react? Why did he slap her?
  • How does he react when he sees her at school?

Chapter 9: Casi señorita

  • What dish does Negi have at her grandma’s? Why doesn’t Mami make it? (p. 179)
  • What has happened to Grandpa? Why does Negi go in his room?
  • Do you think Negi is jealous of Raymond? Why?
  • Where is Negi going to stay while Mami is in New York again? Does she like staying with this person? Why?

A visit to Abuela's

  • What does Negi “savor” on p. 183?
  • What else does she like about Titi?
  • Why do Negi and her sibling act up with Titi?
  • Where is Negi sent when Titi can no longer handle all the kids?
  • Does Negi accept meekness, like Gladys?
  • What does she do when she peels the potatoes?

Titi Generosa (Aveda)

Puerto Rican Imigration

  • Have you ever moved to a new place?
  • A new city or school? Was it difficult? How so?
  • What (cultural) differences did you notice in the new place?
  • Do you miss anything about the old place?

Let's Reflect

Read the following article on inmigration

Puerto Rican Immigration in the 20th Century

Songs and poetry about:

  • What do “cats” symbolize in the song?
  • What difficulties might new immigrants face?
  • Is America the “land of opportunity” for everybody?

But are there “cats” in America?

Which minor characters have already immigrated to NYC? Is this viewed as a good thing by characters still on the island (Puerto Rico)?

Immigration to NYC in WPR

  • On arrival to New York:
  • Why might New York City be a hub for immigrants?
  • How do you think they were received?

Immigrant Struggles

Job opportunities: blue collar jobs, manual labor, low skilled labor, factory and domestic work [citation: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41839482?read-now=1&seq=2#page_scan_tab_contents] Puerto Ricans as an “underclass”: lacking education and therefore job opportunities, as well as fragmented families, led to struggling neighborhoods and generational poverty [citation:https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/politics/poverty/othrund.htm

Life in the United States for Puerto Rican Immigrants

It’s hard to learn another language, especially if you are older Children often assisted their parents Some people made fun of the accent of Puerto Rican immigrants in NYC, leading to the creation of a new racial slur (spik)

Cultural Differences – PR vs. NYC

In the '50s, the curly hair and dark brows in Puerto Rico were inspired by activist Lolita Lebrón (the Puerto Rican nationalist convicted for attempted murder after an assault on, and occupation of, the House of Representatives), while the more natural-looking beauty standards in New York were taken from actress Míriam Colón. "We are showing you a very different women's relationship to the U.S. administration of Puerto Rico: at times asking to belong, and at times demanding independence," Chan told BuzzFeed.

Style Differences – PR vs. NYC 1950s

The straighter hair and bangs look in Puerto Rico in the '60s was inspired by actor and singer Lucha Villa. The New York look took after Rita Moreno in West Side Story. West Side Story marked a time of Puerto Rico getting the spotlight and attention from the pop culture world. Clip from WSS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B1IjqiMQJ0 (~7)

Style Differences – PR vs. NYC 1960s

  • What happens when Mami returns?
  • Where were the kids while Mami was gone?
  • Why does Papi spend time in the shack behind the house?

Chapter 10: Dreams of a better life

  • Describe Mami and Papi's relationship
  • How do they react to Esmeralda's relationship?
  • What is the symbolic meaning of Gardenia?
  • What happens to Mami and Papi's business?

Chapter 10: Dreams of a better life

  • What is New York like?
  • Describe Esmeralda's school life
  • Does the family have a better life in Brooklyn?
  • In what ways does Negi "Come of age" in Brooklyn?

Chapter 11: Angels on the celing

  • What is Negi noticing about discrimination and racism in the US?
  • How are the roles of women/feminism different from PR to US?
  • What are some other differences between PR and US? (climate, safety, how people act, culture, rules, food)

Chapter 12: You don't want to know

  • Negi’s family moved and she’s in a new class at school – which?
  • What does Negi say she wants to be when she grows up?
  • What did she want to be in Puerto Rico?
  • How does she alienate her only friend in 9th grade? (258)

Chapter 13: A shot at it