Almost a Woman

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In the autobiography Almost A Woman by Esmeralda Santiago, there are many cultural differences. She feels alienated from the rest of the people in New York or the United States, for that matter. When Esmeralda was thirteen she moved to New York with her family from Puerto Rico. She did not know a word of English nor did she have any idea of what the American culture was like. To top off her ignorance of the American culture, she was poor, making her more of an outcast.

As she was growing up in the United States, most people related her to the only Latin people they had ever seen, who were Desi Arnaz from "I Love Lucy" and Rita Moreno from "West Side Story". She hated those assumptions; they were inaccurate. Desi Arnaz played to role of a Cuban musician who was married to an American and was always put as the dumb, ignorant Hispanic who was sometimes lost in the ideas of the American. Some of that is true, but she didn’t like the idea that people thought she was dumb just because the American culture was new to her. The other person that most people related her to was Rita Moreno’s character in "West Side Story". Esmeralda hated this one even more. Moreno’s character was a Puerto Rican girl named Maria caught in the middle of a gang rivalry. Esmeralda thought they portrayed Maria as a whore because of the way she dressed and the way she acted towards men. Her peers and some teachers in school thought that way of her. Esmeralda knew that was not true because most Latin people she had met, including her closest friends, were never allowed to wear a skirt that was above the knee or even have a boyfriend. Towards the end of Junior High School one of her teachers who had always had faith in her said that she should audition for the Performing Arts High School in Manhattan. She liked the idea that she could become a famous star when she was older. The other students and some teachers discouraged her. They thought she was...
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