Analysis of Sandra Cisneros' Short Stories "Barbie-Q" and "My Tocaya"

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Two stories that are abundant with feminist views and stereotypes are Cisneros' Barbie-Q and My Tocaya. In both stories, we see characters struggle with what it means to be a woman. Cisneros explores the standards women are held up to, and the standards they make for themselves. Cisneros does a wonderful job of bringing out the worries, fears, and Otherness that women frequently grapple with in their daily lives. She writes her tales, all the while reflecting and dismantling stereotypes of women. Cisneros, when participating in a project titled Interviews with Writers of the Post-Colonial World, stated: "I guess my feminism and my race are the same thing to me. They're tied in one to another, and I don't feel an alliance or allegiance with upper-class white women" (Jussawalla, Dasenbrock, 74).

It is important to understand some background on the tremendous role society has in shaping people's views of themselves before plunging into the story. Author Leticia Romero explores in her essay Barbie-Q: A Subversive or Hegemonic Popular Text?what message Ms. Cisneros was trying to communicate with her audience. Romero states: Sandra Cisneros cleverly-and rather strongly-questions these traditional values of society, and unveils the hegemonic ideology that attempts to manipulate and subordinate the social groups marginalized by the dominant class (Romo, 2).

In Barbie-Q, we are introduced to two little girls and their respective Barbies: Yours is the one with mean eyes and a ponytail. Striped swimsuit, stilettos, sunglasses and gold hoop earrings. Mine is the one with bubble hair. Red swimsuit, stilettos, pearl earrings, and a wire stand. But that's all we can afford, besides one extra outfit apiece (Cisneros, 14).

It is interesting that one of the girls refers to one of the Barbies as having "mean eyes". This is probably a reference to the homogenization these girls have been exposed to. In that little girl's simple observation, a complex question is...
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