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Eleven

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  • October 1999
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"Eleven" by Sandra Cisneros, uses many literary devices to

characterize a complex eleven-year-old. Rachel, the

ingenuous 1st person narrator, relates the details of her

humiliating eleventh birthday. Although her diction reflects

her age, Rachel conveys the difficulty of growing up with

adult precision. She is embarrassed and feels helpless, but

knows she will soon be home with her parents, and her

terrible day will drift away. Rachel's age is given away not

only by the title, but by her word choice. She employs

numerous similes, describing crying like uncontrollable

hiccups, drinking milk to fast, and little animal noises. Her

confidence rattles like "pennies in a tin Band-Aid Box," and

she is always on the edge of lapsing into another session of

tears. However, Rachel's diction does not simple betray her

age. Descriptions like "smells like cottage cheese" are

insights into her true personality. She is passionate and

curious, almost to a fault. Because she describes things like

runaway balloons, she is a believable eleven-year-old. First

person narration reveals though Rachel's thoughts are those

of a typical eleven-year-old her descriptive ability is more

mature. Rachel has an uncanny ability to convey her feelings.

However, because she is an ingenuous narrator, she

sometimes misses the deeper significance of her feelings.

Although she twice mentions she is looking forward to cake,

her birthday song, and normal birthday things, she does not

mention she also needs the comfort of her parents. On the

other hand, unlike most older, or mature, people, she

understands enough about life experience to know she does

not have enough. Twice she mentions she would like to have

the experience of someone who is one hundred and two. At

eleven Rachel realizes that with experience comes

confidence, personal strength, and most important to her,

knowing what to do in hostile...

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