Pat Mora is an award-winning writer that bases most her poems on tough cultural challenges and life as a Mexican American. She was born in a Spanish speaking home in El Paso, Texas. Mora is proud to be a Hispanic writer and demonstrates how being culturally different in America is not easy. She explains this through her experiences and the experience other’s. In her poems “Elena”, “Sonrisas”, and “Fences”, Mora gives you a glimpse of what life as a Mexican American is; their hardships, trials, strength that make them who they are.
In the poem Elena, Mora describes a woman who is dealing with the hardships of being a Spanish speaker in an English dominant country. The structure of the poem tells three stories: the way life was in Mexico, how Elena’s feels the language barrier between her children is effecting her relationship with them, and the challenges she faces in trying to educate herself in the English language. Mora takes you deep into a mind of a woman who is not only facing challenges in the outside world but in her home life as well.
In the stanza one Mora writes about the internal struggle of Elena, a woman who only knows how to speak in her home language, Spanish. When you read the line “My Spanish isn’t enough.” (LI. 1), it shows that Elena feels this heavy weight on her shoulders; her knowledge of only one language isn’t enough. She looks to the past and remembers being able to enjoy listening and understanding her children. The symbolic meaning of being able to listen and understand is being able to have a strong bond with her children. Then the Elena gets pulled back into reality and remembers that the memories of being able to understand her children are left behind in Mexico, they live in America now. She sees how coming to America has affected her relationship with her children because of the language barrier they now face. Mora’s description of Elena give you an incite to what most non-English speakers must feel coming to an...
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