Monday, November 3, 2008

How Yolanda Lost Her Accent

I have just finished the first of three parts to this book. I am not completely sold on it but I think I can account that to the fact that I am only a third of the way through and nothing has really come together yet. 
So far the story has been told from Yolanda's point of view. In the first story "Antojos", she contrasts the lives of her sisters to those of her cousins who stayed behind on the island. While blowing out the candles to her birthday cake she compares her two homes; "But look at her cousins, women with households and authority in their voices. Let this turn out to be my home, Yolanda wishes" (11). Yolanda is stuck between two worlds in which she fits neatly into neither. She has spent the majority of her adult life in the US and can now speak english without the old hesitation or inability to find appropriate words for her feelings and thoughts. Those were the justifications for the end of her past relationships; with Rudy, the reasoning behind her abstinence was clear in her spanish thoughts but confusing in her english vocab. Likewise, John was unable to take her seriously, constantly misunderstanding her mastery of the english language. Now Yolanda seeks solace in her old, foreign home in the Dominican. But is this really what she needs?
Yolanda seeks 'authority' with men and family, a issue that stems from her father's authority and her failure with relationships. I am not convinced she will find it in the Dominican, at least not yet. When she is caught off-guard by the two campesinos in the night, she becomes mute, not at all the authoritative woman she hoped this country would allow her to be. I think Yolanda, as well as her sisters, have spent enough time in the US to feel comfortable but not at home and too much time away from home to feel like a Dominicana. 
Once again, this adds a whole new facet to the chicano/a subject. I am starting to feel like chicano is too broad a term but then again white is as well. 


Jon said...

Just a note... Alvarez would normally be described as a "Latina" (or perhaps "Hispanic") in any case, as "Chicano/a" refers specifically to Mexican-Americans.

Of course, "Latina" may also be too broad a term...

anaoaks said...

I agree with you that Yolanda can’t really fin a place to belong she keeps on searching where she will feel better but she doesn’t belong either in the states or in Dominica. A reason for this I believe is that she herself does not know who she is, she hasn’t defined herself and I think this issue of belonging has to be resolved with in her self. May be that is hwy her sister the psychologist keeps on analysing her.