Norma E. Davis
Steven G. Kellman
December 6, 2011
El Titulo, The Title: Translation in Sandra Cisneros’s Caramelo According to Bill Johnson Gonzales Through His Article “The Politics of Translation in Sandra Cisneros’s Caramelo: Translation, Defamiliarization, Ethics”
Prologue: Memories, Recuerditos de la Guerita Normita, Como me Decían en Mexico A Reaction to Caramelo: Memories Repressed and Reborn
Though I am aware that this is not a creative writing assignment, I cannot help but, at the very least, mention my personal experience as a first generation Mexican-American as it was fundamentally influential to my choice to read Sandra Cisneros’s novel as well as my overall understanding and analysis of Caramelo. Reading Caramelo has awakened within me senses, memories, experiences that have been dormant, or as Celaya, according to Gonzales, repressed for many years. As a child, raised by my mami, Tita (Cristina Ellen), and my abuelita, Cristi (Maria Cristina), Spanish was the only language spoken at home. Like Celaya, when spoken to in Spanish, I replied in English. Birthdays, we sang “Las Mañanitas,” “The Little Mornings,” instead of Happy Birthday, just as Celaya recalls in Caramelo. We celebrated “las posadas,” the twelve days of Christmas with a rosca, bread in the forma of a cake, large and redondo, round, with a plastic bebe, baby, Jesús baked within. On the day of los Reyes Magos, the three wise men, our shoes were filled with pesetas, coins. Abuelita, or grama as I called her in my Spanglish, prepared: tamales dulces, sweet, of pineapple and strawberry; chiles rellenos, filled with raisins, meat, nuts, and topped with salsa agria, sour cream, and queso, cheese; flan; paella, rice with seafood. Summers we drove forever, manejábamos lejísimos, just as Celaya, mami’s left arm quemada, burnt red, across the border and all the way through Mexico, 18 hours, with el PoPo, Mt. Popocatepetl, always on the horizon. Usually two months in Cuernavaca, though we always made it to tío Pepe’s country house in Cuatla and las tías Ampudias y los primos, cousins, in Monterrey, Montémorelos, and Mexico City for a few weeks. Reading Celaya’s journey has facilitated the manifestation of my vivid recollections: cutting plátanos with the machete, mami’s sharp knife that resembled a sword which she wore on her belt; picking mangos, limones, papayas; retrieving los huevos, the eggs, from las gallinas, the hens; curling my toes up to mami’s belly because I was terrified of the alacranes at night, las casa del campo, the country house was full of scorpions; getting leche, milk, from the man on el caballo, horse, in metal jugs; helping tía Rosita take plumas, feathers from the pollo, chicken, still tibio, warm to the touch; riding cousin Omar’s burro, donkey, Spike, but he pronounced it Espayk, all over the Mexican country-side until returning to la casa, the house, to be scolded by tío, uncle, Pepe for having missed la comida, lunch; aromas of el Mercado, the market: the smell of raw carne, meat, and pescado, fish; sweetness from the stand of frutas, fruit; the frying of chicharrones, pork rind; the aguas frescas, juices, melón, cantaloupe, sandia, watermelon, pina, pineapple. My abuelita, grama, and mami have both passed on, se han muerto, and the language es lo que me queda de ellas, it’s what I have retained of them. I found it coincidental, yet worth mentioning, that I find myself mirroring, at least aesthetically, the character of Celaya’s aunt within the novel. Norma, la guera, “well look at her” (Cisneros 29). This echoes the way I am addressed and referred to in Mexico to a T. Bill Johnson Gonzales notes that Cisneros chooses to only use “guera” to describer her fair skinned aunt this once in the entire novel, instead calling her “aunty light skin” the remainder of the story. I am in complete agreement with Gonzales’s analysis on this as he states that Celaya’s English version, “aunty light skin,”...
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