Se Habla Espanol vs. A Giant Step
The characters from the stories Se Habla Espanol and A Giant Step face struggles with racial issues and personal difficulties. They find a true aspect of significance in each of their stories. Barrientos realizes that her heritage is an important factor to who she is. The boy realizes his shoes got him many places through the years, and they signify loyalty to his handicapped situation. Both characters focus on their appreciation and the meaning of their experiences. In both stories, a meaningful past is something that they have in common. These characters’ struggles help them succeed in becoming stronger individuals. In Se Habla Espanol, the past is misunderstood because Barrientos came from a Spanish background but was raised to speak nothing but English. Her narrative states, “College-educated and seamlessly bilingual when they settled in west Texas, my parents (a psychology professor and an artist) wholeheartedly embraced the notion of the American melting pot. They declared that their two children would speak nothing but ingles (Barrientos 560).” In A Giant Step, the past is feared because the boy went through many surgeries in hopes of being able to walk normally again. Gates memoir states, “I limped through the next decade- through Yale and Cambridge… as far away as Piedmont as I could get. But I couldn’t escape the pain, which increased as the joint calcified and began to fuse over the next 15 years (Gates 834).” Overcoming the racial issues of the past is what helped Barrientos write her story. For Tanya Barrientos, life was complicated. She moved to the United States in 1963 at the age of three with her family who immediately stopped speaking Spanish. Her family embraced American society. As she states, “People who were considered Mexican- Americans or Afro-Americans were considered dangerous radicals, while law- abiding citizens were expected to drop their cultural baggage at the border and leave any lingering traits...
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