Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Ethnic Identity in Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo

Academic journal article Notes on Contemporary Literature

Ethnic Identity in Sandra Cisneros's Caramelo

Article excerpt

In Sandra Cisneros's novel, Caramelo (NY: Vintage Contemporaries, 2003), the concept of Latina/o ethnic identity is shown to be far more complex than the "Hispanic" or "Non-Hispanic" dichotomy of United States census categories. At one point in the novel, the narrator Celaya vents about the ignorance of Americans who expect all Mexicans to look alike, pointing out that there are blonde Mexicans, Jewish Mexicans, "leftover-French Mexicans," Mexicans of African and Asian descent, and "curly-haired, freckle-faced, red-headed Mexicans" (353), just to name a few of the different ethnicities that make up the population.

Within Celaya's family, ethnicity serves as the catalyst for many of the novel's conflicts. As Celaya delves into her family history, she discovers a cycle of women of non-European origin and dark coloring internalizing the larger culture's racism. These women not only deny their roots, but they also demonstrate extreme racism toward other members of their family with dark skin. When Celaya recounts the story of how her Awful Grandmother, Soledad, became the way she is, a key detail is that Soledad was an Indian peasant who went to her richer, whiter family in the city in search of work. The matron of this family, her future mother-in-law Regina, dislikes Soledad's appearance because it reminds her "too much of her own humble roots" (113). Celaya reflects that "Regina liked to think that by marrying Eleuterio Reyes she had purified her family blood, become Spanish, so to speak. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.