Latinos and Homosexuality

Unfortunately, there is a stereotype that most Hispanic people use. They often look down on any homosexual Hispanic male. In traditional Hispanic culture, the man is supposed to be the most dominant figure in the household. He is supposed to bring home the money and the women tends to take the subordinate role. Lots of Hispanics are homophobic. Yunque writes:

The only one who wasn’t Puerto Rican was Nalgas, and he was gay. Maybe people would think he was also Puerto Rican. Nalgas means buttocks in Spanish. Was SBS saying that Ricans were homosexuals or homophobic? Both were true, but which one was the dominant aspect of the culture? (Yunque 105)

In Samuel Beckett’s play he includes a gay character but makes that specific character the only one that is not Puerto Rican. I say that’s some kind of significance, whether it may be just avoiding the ridicule of a Puerto Rican homosexual or if SBS just wanted it that way. In the beginning of the novel, Maruquita gets very defensive when Omaha mispronounces her name and calls her “Mariconcita”. She responds “I ain’t no mothafuckin cachapera lesbian, pendejo. That’s what the fuck. […] Then don’t be calling me no names” (Yunque 14). For others, being a proud gay Latino can be very liberating, like Ricky Martin. He gained much respect when he came out and now he lives happy and open with everyone.

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In Yunque’s book, we discover lots of Spanish words in the middle of English sentences. This can be considered code-switching, which is when an author switches between languages with no clear marker. Yunque clearly mentions this code-switching when he writes,

As a result his oral grammar became extremely bizarre. Phrases such as, Why for you axe me that? Yo, yet and still, I don’t gotta go if I don’t wanna; I didn’t did it; You don’t gotta plex up; Don’t play yourself, homeboy, and I stood in my house all weekend had become part of his everyday speech patterns. It was as if with each step he took in code switching and absorbing of Spanglish, he became less socially acceptable to the predominant hip East Village bohemian milieu. (Yunque 150)

Yunque uses lots of Spanglish in this book, one can say that the entire book is written in Spanglish (that is if you consider Spanglish to be its own language or just an extended form of an accent).  Yunque states that writing in two languages can spice up a novel, “Not knowing a language has never prevented novelists from spicing up their work with little foreign phrases to create atmosphere and exoticism” (Yunque 112). Also in the video below we see the use of Spanglish and how most of them think it’s an advantage.

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Magical Realism

In the beginning of Yunque’s book, when Omaha is describing Maruquita’s awsome-ness to Richard, he mentions her turning herself into a peacock. He says “She did a peacock that was out of this world, man” (Yunque 59). But he begins by saying the Richard that “She’s really nice, Richard. And she can do all kinds of magical-realism shit” (Yunque 59). Richard goes on to say “Wait, man. Magical realism? Like in Garcia Marquez, with the fucking butterflies in the whole town and seafood walking outta the sea and going into people’s houses and shit?” (Yunque 59). I liked how Yunque included Garcia Marquez in this short dialogue because most of the short stories that we read in class by Garcia Marquez included a lot of crazy magic realism things. It’s also nice how he inputted a Hispanic writer rather than an American writer or European writer. I think he did this because like himself, a lot of Spanish writers include magic realism in their stories. The reason I chose a picture of the peacock is because it seems to be a real accomplishment for Maruquita. “But she’s perfected it. I don’t mean to be hypercritical, Flaquita. You know that I hold you in the highest regard, but your peacock still lacks the panache that your daughter brings to the display of her feathers. When Maruquita flares that peacock tail, it’s like watching the aurora borealis in the middle of the day” (Yunque 39).

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Charlize or Jennifer?

In Yunque’s book, he compares Winnifred to Charlize Theron and Maruquita to Jennifer Lopez. When he’s describing Winnifred he tells his mom “No, Mom, she’s really bright and beautiful, […] Blond hair, blue eyes. She looks a little like Charlize Theron” (Yunque 183). We get the comparison of Maruquita to Jennifer Lopez by Marquita herself and also Winnifred “She missed Omaha Bigelow desperately and felt jealous that this Jennifer Lopez look-alike, Marsuckita Whatever, was off in the Heartland visiting the mother of her beloved” (Yunque 192).  “Each mornig before they finished their shift, the big-butt poor-man’s-Jennifer-Lopez look-alike, with her big earrings and pseudo grunge Latino fashion statements […]” (Yunque 124) Must be a hard decision choosing between two beautiful women such as the ones above. Good luck, Omaha. Either way, it’s a win-win =]

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Lettuce Pickers

This is a picture of a lettuce picker. We learned about lettuce pickers in Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper but we also see lettuce pickers mentioned in Edgardo Vega Yunque’s Omaha Bigelow (for short). We first learn about lettuce pickers from Rita Hayworth’s character in Plascencia’s book. Before Rita becomes this movie star icon she loses her viriginity to a Spanish boy who was a lettuce picker. In Yunque’s bopk, he writes:

You’re making me feel guilty. Maybe some contiguous Latin American country creeping up on the U.S. Southern border and sneaking coyotelike into the United States to take lettuce-picking jobs away from good Americans could be considered a threat. (Yunque 196)

I don’t know the significance of mentioning the lettuce pickers but I’m assuming it has something to do with the hispanic culture. Maybe most lettuce pickers are of Hispanic decent? In any case, I think this is also a good way of incorporating Hispanic culture into Latin American literature. I think if hispanic people can relate to understand this then it makes the book more likeable to that specific reader. I just took notice that the idea of a lettuce picker popped up in two books read this semester.

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Classmates’ Comments

I really liked the idea of having other classmates look at my blogs and comment on them. Since we all have the same task to complete for the final article, I think we can give each other some pointers and direction. For the classmate’s that commented on my blogs, I really appreciated your comments. They offered some advice to make my arguement more relevant and strong. Caitlin commented on my response 5 and left some really good ideas and also left me a thinking question which I thought was really helpful because I plan on doing my final article on Spanglish in Latin American literature. I believe that we can only help each other by reading others’ repsonses and giving some criticism.

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Hetero or Homo?

In a homodiegetic narrative, the story is told by a (homodiegetic) narrator who is also one of the story’s acting characters. […] In a heterodiegetic narrative, the story is told by a (heterodiegetic) narrator who is not present as a character in the story. (Jahn N1.10)

In Salvador Plascencia’s “The People of Paper” we can assume, at least from the beginning of the text, that this story is going to be told using a hetereodiegetic narrative. I say this because although we are getting first person perspectives on a lot of these events from different characters, we are also getting the omniscence point of view from the steady narrator, Saturn. In Saturn’s text, he using mostly the third person pronouns to describe events. However, later in the story we come to read Salvador Plascencia IN THE STORY. This is associated with homodiegetic narration. He not only puts himself in the story but he also acknowledges that he is this Saturn narrator. So if I were to classify this story as either homodiegtic or heterdiegtic, I would say it was homodiegetic but I’m not certain. Or using both can be just as cool (and more complex) than using one type of narration.

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In Salvador Plascencia’s “The People of Paper” we get this new style of writing (at least for me). He introduces a column style of narratives, each with a heading of the person narrating that portion. Some are shorter than others, some are completely blocked out because of the limitation the heterodiegitic narrator has, and others are seen more than their equivalents. For one, we always see Saturn’s point of view and his column is always on a page by itself. We can also classify this style of writing as “repetitive telling” which Jahn explains to be “recounting several times what happened once” (Jahn N5.2.4). In Plascencia’s novel, we do get generally within a two page span, one event being told by three different characters, and so we can say that Plascencia is repeatedly telling the same story over again but using different focalizers to do so which creates a different outlook to the reader each time the event is told by another character.

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Unreliable Narrator

In Sesshu Foster’s “Atomic Aztex”, a reader can be easily confused as to who is talking and illustrating the story line. Jahn describes an unreliable narrator as “a narrator “whose rendering of the story and/or commentary on it the reader has reasons to suspect” (Jahn N7.6). As readers, we can question what to believe is Foster’s story because we are hinted that the narrator, Zenzo, is taking drugs or something of the sort. If this isn’t a big red flag then I don’t know what is. In order to get a true sense of what is happening in the story, I personally like a hetereodiegetic narrator who can give me an omniscient point of view and let me know everything that is going on within all the characters. In Foster’s story, we get his homodiegitic point of view and we can’t even rely on that so I don’t know if I’m really believing everything that is going on in this book.

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Static Character

The little girl in the Gabriel Garcia Marquez story “Nabo: The Black Man Who Made the Angels Wait” can be classified as a static character. Jahn describes a static character as “a one-dimensional figure characterized by a very restricted range of speech and action patterns” (Jahn N7.7). The little girl in this story is mentioned about four times throughout the story however we never learn her name. We get a slight description of her, we know that she is mute and handicapped. Other than that, she doesn’t develop in the story as the other characters do. Maybe this can be associated with her disability and maybe Garcia Marquez did this purposely because we can’t hear her thoughts, literally.

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