Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

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By Sandra Cisneros
The novel “Caramelo” by Sandra Cisneros deals with the issues of a young ¾ Mexican girl named Lala, who grows up with a father described as “traditional” and a mother described as “modern and tolerant” (grey box p. 44) In the first excerpt our main character, Lala, is in the car on the way to Mexico with her family. Before crossing the border, the kids sing title songs from American commercials and cartoons they remember. After passing the border “nobody feels like singing” (p. 40, l. 29) and this is where the reader is being presented to Lala’s impression of Mexico. Lala is a Chicano with a predominant American childhood, which is obvious from the songs the kids sing in the car. Lala gives a very sensuous description of everything she experiences. The descriptions are based on differences between Mexico and America, and that is what she focuses on - for instance “Toc, says the light switch in the country, at home it says click” (p. 41 l. 8) and “no more (…) cold bottles of 7-up, now we’ll drink fruit-flavored sodas” (p. 41 l. 3) Her language is also a bit influenced by the Spanish language as when she says “Ya mero, pero no. Almost, but not quite. Si, pero no. Yes, but no” which shows a divided personality. When Lala gets older (around 17 years) she is having a quarrel with her father, Inocencio, who was born in Mexico and has a very conservative Mexican view on tradition and family. He wants his daughter to act like a Mexican girl, and only leave the house when married. It is evident that Lala has reached her teenage years, and is trying to tear herself away from her family. She is very influenced by her friends: “But all my friends say…” and idols: “Just stuff like … like you see people doing in the movies. I want a life like…” (p. 45 l. 11 and l. 18). Her father, on the other hand, wants her to stay, and follow the traditions. “One must strive to be honorable” he says (p. 45 l. 34). The relationship between Lala and her father is...
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