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Xue 1Yi Ming Sofyia XueExpository Paper LA Honors/ BlueYale University PressMrs. L. Smith26 October 2016Finding a Place in a New Place Any immigrant will have his or her own struggles in adjusting to a new country and home. Immigrants will have different experiences depending on the countries involved. In Julia Alvarez’s classic novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, readers follow the Garcias on their journey of assimilation to America from the Dominican Republic. The main characters and chapters revolve around the four Garcia sisters: Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofia, along with Mami and Papi and other Garcia family members. The book goes back in time, from their arriving in America to the Garcias’ leaving their country. Julia Alvarez uses the Garcia family and the extended family to show that cultural assimilation causes confusion of identity, gender roles, and language. Through the second Garcia sister, Sandra, Alvarez writes that she becomes confused in her purpose and who she is or is supposed to be after arriving in America. At a first dinner outing with the Mr. and Mrs. Fanning, Sandi looks into the mirror and thinks: “[She] was a girl who could pass as American, with soft blue eyes and fair skin…Being pretty she would not have to goback to where she came from. Pretty spoke both languages” (Alvarez 177-178). Sandra believes she could be seen as a pretty American girl, instead of an outcast Dominican girl to fit in to American society. She has been told, since a young age, that she was the prettiest out of her sisters and has the “good blood” in the family, stemming from her Swedish great-great grandmother, meaning the Caucasian skin and features. This gives her the impression that being pretty is her role in the family to maintain; pretty will allow Americans to see her as one of their
Xue 2own and thus not discriminate against her for being Dominican. This confusion of her own identity: being Dominican, but looking American, causes problems in areas of her judgement as Sandra grows older. The pressure of maintaining her beauty ultimately creates her obsession withdieting and leading to her mental breakdown. Sandra’s cultural identity crises while first assimilating to America affected her adult life, as shown in her time at the mental hospital, claiming she has monkey hands.In Callaloo: A Search for Identity in Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents, published by the John Hopkins University Press, William Luis