lecture notes

Distance between Us, second meeting



paper copies of midterm2 exams

copies of Baca poem




review Mexican American literature


minority or immigrant? resist or assimilate? (or negatively assimilate?) (detailed objective 4)


on the inside or outside?


10 Indian peon meets newly arrived Spanish bishop


Mary becomes symbol of New World Catholicism



Seguin, Personal Memoirs


1 esteem v. jealousy

military companies, adventurers

caught in middle, dark intrigues, jealousy [mestizo, Hispanic / Latino]


3 Texan war for independence,

many noble hearts

also many bad men

[frontier as stateless society, no protections, only strong and week, with hopes that strong are good]

4 first city of Texas . . . also the receptacle of the scum of society

my countrymen ran to me for protection against the assaults or exactions [demands for payment] of those adventurers

Were not the victims my own countrymen, friends and associates?

foreigners x countrymen

22 my services paid by persecutions


immigrant . . . assimilation, joining dominant culture (sooner or later)


minority . . . isolation, resistance




















Discussion Questions: Continue questions from 19 March


1. Traditional / dysfunctional family associated with minority / socioeconomic behaviors): Since nearly everyone has some sentimental feeling for traditional families, how do we discuss the fact that traditional families often limit individual achievement in modern America, which emphasizes individualism and separation from past traditions to embrace the new?


163 Broken families > back together

170 school = strangers x Iguala [trad / mod]

170 father drinking


205 Papi: no boyfriends
Mago: U.S., not Mexico
206 Barbie & Ken sex
207 Elida run off with boy from neighborhood
x-babies, useless as woman > Elida to U.S., neighbors stop talking (shame)
207 broken relations with children
Immigration took a toll on us all


226 Used Betty to hurt each other

234 Papi x-cholos (gang members)
Gang family, father takes rap for son, another on drugs [minority]

267 scam - men
relation with father > other men
267 Axel from Guatemala


273 Carlos marries, drops out, son, divorces


280 Uncle Gary > El Otro Lado?: “poor but together”
But something good: future


301 father having an affair
301 Betty into gangs

302 Papi arrested
302 Betty chola > frightened teenage girl (human)


314 How could I leave now . . .
Diana: out of comfort zone . . . difficult to leave families


317 UCSC: nuclear family + grandparents







1a. similarly sensitive issue: "unprotected sex" and early child-bearing. Compare "Red Families v. Blue Families."


240 completed ESL, become senorita, body bled [poet]

247 never been kissed [adolescence]


261 Officially become a little woman in eyes of God

285 virgin at marriage (traditional; “red family”)


289 Carlos's wife and Mago expecting


298 unprotected sex
298 Papi: child rearing cf. oxen







1b. Why are women more equal—at least legally or potentially—in the USA than in more traditional societies from which many immigrants and minorities arrive? Many potential answers, but what cultural attractions or risks to equality?


149 bad things come to women who don’t know their place
149 Mila looked furiously at my grandmother fnf
149 It’s different for women in the U.S. . . . not treated like servants [traditional / modern]


187 x-typical Mexican woman

304 Diana: my home your home
Diana no family in LA, forged her way alone
I didn't know then . . . resemblance [mimesis, identification]


305 Mila drops charges, disappointed, different kind of woman







2. Overall, Reyna's story or career mixes minority and immigrant identities or cultural narrative: like minorities, she sometimes clings to an identity separate from the USA's dominant culture, but like immigrants she learns English, trusts authorities, excels in public education, and chooses the modern future over the traditional past, positively assimilating.


299 English teacher a Greek American . . . Latina? (minority as appearance?)
Spoke excellent Spanish

299-300 groups outside of family

300 Latino literature unfamiliar







2a. How do Reyna's siblings' lives or careers compare in terms of minority or immigrant identities. How much do they negatively or positively assimilate?


174 x-freedom, neighborhood; x-outside to play
174 streets empty except for cars


186-7 Mila's advantages: English, U S citizen, woman, + education; not invisible

192 He-Man
192 TV as American pop culture assimilation
193 Santa exists in USA
193-4 Barbie

197 Santa scam

209 Saturday: choices > church tomorrow?
[secularized home] x-Virgen
Sunday drink and watch basketball


241 reading Sweet Valley, glimpse of world I wished to belong to [dominant culture, assimilation]


246 Mago x ESL > “better circles”
"Look Asian," like sisters
x-stripped of my Mexicanness
246 Mexican immigrants from Asia

247 charcoal lighter + carne asada on grill

250 Mago history: High School diploma
Future = “ganas” (desire)
One day I would be somebody in this country

251 Mago: lawyer’s secretary > lawyer
251 green cards, legal residents


258 Mago x-desire to be best in school

259 Waterson College > full time job > car and clothes, go out with coworkers

268 Mago debt, credit cards
Dress her own way, develop own style
270 classy young woman, but Mago drops out


274 Mami, Papi, among 2.9 million legal residents through Immigration and Reform Act of 1986
274 Mami sells Avon at Starlite Swapmeet
Learn English > better job > living as in Mexico or undocumented
x-drive car, x-job with benefits, get off welfare

274-5 x-take advantage of opportunities
Mami’s children without education
Classes in Spanish
Disadvantage, drop outs, gangs, teenage mother


278 Betty and Leonardo overweight
Scent of almond oil and epazote [herb]

280 friends married plus children; maids, garment factory
I was living in that beautiful place they all yearned for


81 Spanish or English? Like a pocha
No longer considered Mexican enough [assimilation]
282 Mago and Reyna fight
282 Mago erase Mexico, English no accent [assimilation]


289 a room . . . now only mine (ct. Woolf)
void inside me, women I loved far away


308 sold fourplex, bought house


309 UC Santa Cruz, fresh start


319 first college graduate in family






2b. Back to sensitive issues, how much do the siblings' differences track class-differences as marked by wealth, education, geographic location or isolation? 


178 Papi’s blue work uniform [color code]
178 retirement home: Kingsley Manor

181 Victorian and Craftsman homes
181 apartment buildings, immigrant families


182 toothaches x-dental insurance


222 Crossed into another world, winos, homeless, prostitution, stench

223 Share kitchen and bathroom [x-privacy]

225 Junk food > overweight [negative assimilation]

270 classy young woman, but Mago drops out


272 dream: major in criminal justice
272 Papi: school x married > job [compassion, small apartment]


277 privatized railroad
Train station a relic, open wound x progress [Mexican Miracle]


321 leave emotions (dominant culture as professional)








Literary devices (Obj. 2)


180 dress as symbol

210 smells > back in Iguala with grandmother [mimesis?]

320 Mex Am: from both places . . . they coexist with in me . . . writing as bridge
writing the bridge




3. How does Reyna's journey transition from oral / spoken culture to a written / literate culture?


21 shack where first lived
Day I was born, as Mami used to tell (oral culture)


29 [spoken culture] scrubbed clothes, told me stories


48 first day of first grade; Books, poetry, fun stories


139 Mago slams door
Mago letter to Papi


167 Miss radio and fairy tales [oral / spoken]

215 writing books > make Papi proud
Limited English [reading materials]

216 stories in Mexico: little pine tree wished gold [fairy tales]
Story of my birth


237 Notebook [literacy]

240 addicted to reading x making friends + unfashionable clothes
Arroyo Seco Library (California)
Fairy tale collections
Cf. Iguala



300 Latino literature unfamiliar
First book ever given
A world similar to my own (mimesis)
Same color skin
Life at home x books and writing (beyond personal)


305 house with books . . . heaven
Cisneros, Mango Street, impact

306 chapter “Sally,” abusiive father [mimesis)
Connection to author
Chicano / Latino lit x wrong kind of books (Sweet Valley)










What makes us more or less human? (obj. 3)

4. What literary devices or events exceed immigrant-minority divisions to make the characters more or less human?

22 dialogue as humility, compassion
Don Bartolo: left because they love you


25 Elida x-chores, never shared


46 Elida heartbroken girl


113 Abuelita Chinta not much money as healer
Distributed evenly [human, contrast other grandmother]
Fruit as pay [barter, pre-capitalism?]


145 wanted Papi to be kinder [Elida] [i.e., x-revenge]
145 Mami, understood her anger


158 sunflower seeds . . . Mago reached out her hand [characterization]

183 Papi x-English, < tools, silence
empathy for Cindy [human]


200 It’s the way he was raised [traditional]


187 gringa > Mila


223 Mami’s pride [inhuman]

232 music--in Mexico, nothing free in school
Put out my hand (cf. Mago)

268 empathy > objectification [human]