English 2 – 6:45pm
November 21, 2012
“Green Chile” Poem Analysis
Food plays an intricate part in any given culture; it is a medium that is used to express love, and to pass down tradition from generation to generation. In Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poem “Green Chile”, Baca explores the value of chile peppers in his family and it’s heritage. Baca states that he “prefer[s] red chile” (1) with his morning eggs, while his grandmother loves the green chiles. Although they both love chile peppers, the two kinds of chiles are very different in their physical appearance and taste. While the young speaker likes the red chile peppers, which are associated with the “tongues of old men” (10), the elderly grandmother loves the green chile peppers from which “youth simmers” (16). These descriptions of the chiles perhaps reflect what each person lacks or yearns for: wisdom and youth. The speaker says that his door is decorated with braided strings of red chile peppers, his roof is covered in red chile peppers, and that red chile peppers hang from the eaves. He states that the red chiles “lend open-air vegetable stands historical grandeur” (5-6) and provide a welcoming feeling. These lines reveal how the speaker believes that this is how he is supposed to share his culture, but shows that for him, the red chiles are casually eaten, and used mostly for decorative purposes: while for the grandmother, the green chiles are used in an almost ritualistic meal. She respects the chile and treats it like a “well-dressed gentleman…tak[ing] it sensuously in her hand” (19-20). The green chile is described with sexual connotations to show the pepper’s fertility and then compared to the taut “flanks of a tiger in mid-leap” (26) to depict it’s strength. Together these traits accentuate the importance of the grandmother’s “sacrifice” to make a feast worthy of “her little prince” (35). The value the chiles hold in the speaker’s family is evident: regardless of...
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