how the garcia girls lost their accent .docx - Kelly Clougherty LCS 121L Dr DeLourenco Liminality and Identity in \u201cHow the Garcia Girls Lost Their

how the garcia girls lost their accent .docx - Kelly...

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Kelly CloughertyLCS 121LDr. DeLourenco11/26/2019Liminality and Identity in “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”The novel “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents,” by Julia Alverez tells the story of afamily in particular the four daughters—Yolanda, Sandy, Carla and Sophia-- who struggle to adapt to a new culture in wake of their political exile from the Dominican Republic. “How the Garcia Girl Lost Their Accents” is narrated in reverse chronological order and takes place in the Dominican Republic during the reign of dictator, Trujillo—who Carlos Garcia, the father in the family—plans to assassinate along with the help of CIA agent “Mr. Victor.” When this plan fails and Garcia, his wife, and four daughters are exiled from their home country—Victor assists Garcia in obtaining an internship position in New York City, where the family then relocated. A very common experience within immigrants is the feeling of existing in between the different cultures—never quite feeling that they belong or are fully integrated into one. This experience is called liminality. Julia Alverez uses the experiences of these fictional characters, specifically the four daughters— to describe the effect that liminality has on the identity of an immigrant. Language barriers can be a cause of liminality which effect an immigrant’s identity drastically. Following their move, Yolanda, Sandy, Sophia and Carla are faced with harassment by their peers at school who shout ethnic slurs and throw things at the girls, and when they try to defend themselves verbally—they are further harassed because of their accents. Not only does this make Carla ashamed of her language which had never been an issue in her past, but also
makes her very aware of the way immigrants are viewed in her new home. This awareness makes it hard for Carla to ever feel like she truly belongs in American society and culture. This feeling is especially true for Carla because as she is the oldest daughter, she had been the most embedded in Dominican society and culture which makes her transition more conflicting. Another experience that shows the impact language can have on immigrants is also seen through the eyes of Carla—one day she was walking home from school when a car (whose brand she did not recognize) pulls up towards her. She assumes the man driving the car is looking for directions and she is worried she won’t be able to help because her English is not good. Carla realizes as she approaches closer that the man is naked and exposing himself to her from the waist down. When Carla’s mother contacts the police about the situation, they say they will need to talk directly to Carla. However, Carla doesn’t recognize the western car brand, so she was

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