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Cultural Assimilation in the “Spanglish” Movie Essay

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Updated: Aug 24th, 2020

Spanglish (2004) is a romantic comedy starring Adam Sandler, Téa Leoni, and Paz Vega. This film is worth seeing not for an outstanding plot or a beautiful love story, but for portraying the process of assimilation of a young Mexican woman, Flor, who came to the United States to seek a better life for her little daughter, Christina after her husband left them. Flor gets a job as a nanny in the family of John and Deborah, even though she does not know a single word in English. It is the starting point of her journey that will turn her family’s life upside down (Monson).

This film raises some significant issues concerning the lives of immigrants from Mexico. For example, the movie starts with Christina’s words that her mother wanted her to embrace the Mexican culture to the maximum possible extent. That is why they stayed in Mexico as long as Flor could make their living. Even when they move to the United States, they live in a Mexican district of the city and speak only Spanish at home. Christina has learned English, but Flor does not have time to follow her daughter’s example or maybe she is too stubborn to assimilate and wants to preserve her Mexican roots. It can be said that Flor believes that “the Spanish language is part of [Mexican] culture which should not be tampered with” (Salazar 138). If it were not for her feelings to John, I doubt that she would have decided to learn English.

Unlike Flor, her daughter desires to assimilate. As Flor and Christina started living with Clasky’s family during summer, Christina uses English in everyday life more frequently and demonstrates the desire to embrace the American culture. She even wants to attend the school Clasky’s daughter goes to. Flor becomes involved in an intercultural conflict (Paredes 145), which can be familiar not only to those living along the state borders but also to people sharing home with the representatives of other cultures. Moreover, it does not necessarily have to spiral into violence. As Deborah caters Christina taking her for walks, dying her hair, and winning her to a scholarship at a private school, Flor does not like it. I believe that if Deborah spoke Spanish or took Christina to eat tacos, this problem would not emerge. What bothered Flor was that her daughter was forgetting her roots that turned into the emotional conflict between two women. Recollect the scene where Flor races Deborah.

Christina, on the other hand, experiences problems of identity (Paredes 143). She is shown the new world that she likes and wants to become a part of and forgets about her mother and culture. Think of the evening when Christina chooses to stay with her American friends and watch TV instead of spending it with her mother’s friends from Mexico. Moreover, recall the final scene when she acknowledges that she uses the American type of fighting with her mom in front of people in the street and American set phrases such as the need for personal space.

Finally, think of the way both Flor and Christina are portrayed. There is a stereotype that Mexicans are “hardworking people who come to the United States to better their lives” (Thompson 153). First of all, it was the initial idea of the moviemakers, who made the stress on the search for a better life. Second, they both are hardworking. The portrayal of Flor can be ignored because it was her job. However, recollect the scene at the beach when Christina and Clasky’s kids gathered pebbles for money. Does not the fact that she found more that one hundred pebbles and earned more than $600 characterize her as hardworking?

What I want to say in the conclusion is that sometimes watching movies can bring more than just emotions. Seeing Spanglish was not only a pleasure to me but also a source of new knowledge, as I understood the essence and emotional concerns related to immigration from the perspective of immigrants.

Works Cited

Monson, John. “Spanglish.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 2016. Web.

Paredes, Américo. “The Problems of Identity in a Changing Culture: Popular Expressions of Culture Conflict Along the Lower Rio Grande Border.” Borders. Ed. Isabel Baca. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead Press, 2011. 143-150. Print.

Salazar, Ruben. “Militants Fight to Retain Spanish as Their Language.” Borders. Ed. Isabel Baca. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead Press, 2011. 137-141. Print.

Thompson, Gabriel. “Introduction to There Is No José Here: Following the Hidden Lives of Mexican Immigrants.” Borders. Ed. Isabel Baca. Southlake, Texas: Fountainhead Press, 2011. 151-156. Print.

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