I Am Mirror: a Historical Critique

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I am Mirror: A Historical Critique

Claribel Alegrίa in Nicaragua in 1924 and a year later her family was exiled to El Salvador because of her father’s support of Nicaraguan guerrilla leader Augusto César Sandino, Alegría's family was forced into exile by Anastasio Somoza, a Nicaraguan politician who later became commander-in-chief of the Nicaraguan army and eventually the nation's president. Her poem I am Mirror was translated in 1978. And is the topic for this critique. In 1978 Alegrίa would be in the United States she left El Salvador in 1943 to study at George Washington University. From 1924 to her departure to the United States there was much violence in her home country in 1932 there was a massacre in which over a period of eight days thirty thousand peasants were estimated to be slaughtered by the vastly superiorly armed El Salvador army. The country also has vast disparity of wealth with one half to one percent controlling ninety percent of the nation’s wealth. The poem states:

Water sparkles
on my skin
and I don’t feel it
water streams
down my back
I don’t feel it
I rub myself with a towel
I pinch myself in the arm
I don’t feel
frightened I look at myself in the mirror
she also pricks herself
I begin to get dressed

This is identifying that wealthy portion of the population that controls 90 percent of the country’s wealth. It is describing their lack of humanity to allow the rest of the population to suffer in great poverty. The author uses this lack of feeling to question if their humanity has been lost. Given that Claribel was able to afford an American education like many of the wealthy families did it stands to wonder how much she associated herself with the wealthy. Perhaps it’s contributed by her support for non-violence and the poor given that she did come from some resemblance of wealth herself. In the following stanza it gives evidence that the character of the poem was wealthy: I wander through the streets:

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