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Rome, do as the Romans do.” Mami is bringing her strong female presence from the Dominican to the Americas. This is a confusion on her gender role, as a wife and as a mother in the United States. In an analytical literary paper by Diane Tincher of the University of Houston, Tincher claims that, “[Yolanda] has benefited greatly because she lives in the United States, however, there is always a part of her that believes that what she is doing is not right because she is not following the same traditional gender roles that her female kin, who live in the Old World” (par 4). Each culture and country has their own ideas of gender roles, but assimilating to another country’s gender roles means one must let go of some of their previous ones, thus leading to a distortion of their supposed gender role. Yolanda, Alvarez’s primary character, has the most challenge with language when assimilating to the United States, as her emphasis on words causes her the greatest problems bothsocially and mentally from her youth to her adulthood. When Yolanda was speaking with her then-husband, John, she could not understand a word he said, and thought: “Maybe that meant, I
Xue 4love you too, in whatever tongue he was speaking. He pointed to her, to himself. ‘Babble?’” (Alvarez 77). Yolanda and her way with words led to incomprehension of her ex-husband; she kept hearing him babble and thought it was an entirely different language than what she knows. She is confused with her language and what everyone else is saying due to her bilingualism and comprehension of English and Spanish at the same time, and thus results in her crazed obsession with words, to the extent of becoming “allergic” to certain ones. In the literary criticism piece, Hyphenated Americans in Julia Alvarez’s How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Tito Matias-Ferreira Jr of the Federal University of Ouro Preto, writes that “…bilingualism is one of the consequences of the impact of immigration in immigrant’s lives… bilingualism is one of the most prominent reasons for immigrants to feel as ‘hyphenated Americans’” (40). He believes thatbilingualism creates a confusion of language and provides the everlasting barrier between being truly from a country to an immigrant. Years later, after returning to the Dominican Republic, Yolanda talks to two men who question her on the road after her car breaks down. They speak to her in Spanish, and she then pretends to not understand Spanish and speaks back: “Then, as if the