Poet Maya Angelo aptly stated, “I am convinced that most people do not grow up... We carry accumulation of years in our bodies, and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are innocent and shy as magnolias.” Similarly, Sandra Cisneros’s “Eleven” illuminates the enigmatic journey of growing up through the sagacious eyes of an eleven year old child. As the speaker of this work asserts, the aging process does not eradicate a person’s previous self. Instead, it accumulates layers of one’s former years and creates a realistic portrait of one’s complete existence. Cisneros’s work illustrates mankind’s maddening, internal struggle as it ages in this manner. When life demands maturity, one inadvertently becomes the sobbing three year old, the introverted adolescent, or the awkward teen of one’s past. The speaker of this literary work, Rachel, embodies this frustrating process of growing up. Undoubtedly, Cisneros employs similes, repetition, and imagery as well as symbols and diction to characterize Rachel as she matures. The similes, repetition, and imagery utilized throughout “Eleven” vividly portray the speaker. For example, Cisneros illuminates Rachel’s development with the following comparisons: “Growing old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other.” This illustrates the way in which each of Rachel’s years develops atop the prior one. As a result, she remains the quiet four year old who cannot express that the sweater does not belong to her and the three year-old who desperately wants to release a flood of tears as she is forced to wear the horrid red garment. Additionally, Cisneros characterizes Rachel as a child “with only eleven years rattling inside [her] like pennies in a Band-Aid box.” The randomness and disorder of loose change as it jiggles in its container mirrors Rachel’s internal turmoil. Each of the speaker’s...
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