Barbie-Q Text Explication

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“Every time the same story. Your Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, and my Barbie’s boyfriend comes over and your Barbie steals him, okay? Kiss kiss kiss. Then the two Barbies fight. You dumbbell! He’s mine. Oh no he’s not, you stinky! Only Ken’s invisible, right? Because we don’t have money for a stupid-looking boy doll when we’d both rather ask for a new Barbie outfit next Christmas. We have to make do with your mean-eyed Barbie and my bubblehead Barbie and our one outfit apiece not including the sock dress.” Cisneros, “Barbie-Q,” (270).

The shift between child-like language and adult language is one of the most interesting traits of Sandra Cisneros’ short story “Barbie-Q”. The young, childlike 2nd person point of view and use of words like, “you” and “we” brings the readers into the world of this young girl and her playmate. The age of the narrator is never revealed but by the dialogue used in this selection of text (“You dumbbell” He’s mine. Oh no, he’s not you stinky!”), the readers are left with the impression that this character is a young girl. It is when the girl discusses the outfits and dolls themselves, in adult language, that we begin to uncover the conflict of this short story. By alternating between child-like and adult language Sandra Cisneros brings to the forefront a conflict between man and society, more specifically, society’s gender roles and how they are defined through advertising of the Barbie’s vs. the little girl’s opinion of those gender roles. It is not until they find many flawed Barbie’s at the flea market, that the narrator begins to accept her own identity and ‘flaws’, and discards society’s ideal gender roles.

In the first paragraph we see the obsession with perfection and materialism manifest, but also the acknowledgement of the fact that they have all that they can afford. The narrator tells her playmate about the outfits as if she is reading an advertisement, or the description from the box. The reading of...
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