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Literary Critique on the story “Aura” by Annecy Baez Critical Essay

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Updated: Nov 11th, 2019


Annecy Baez grew up in the Bronx. She had a loving, supportive, and stable family. Her experiences in this part of town were major components of the short story “Aura”. In the piece, the narrator talks about a family history of cancer; this is true in her real life. She lost her mother and aunt to cancer and is currently supporting her niece in her fight against blood cancer. In the story, Mia talks about a Latin neighborhood, which was also derived from her real-life experience.

The piece’s sexual overtones and theme of sexual abuse originated from her life as a social worker and therapist. Lastly, this literary piece was indicative of twenty-first century trends in minority literature owing to its focus on mythology, the author’s Spanish heritage, and interactions of Spanish and American culture. Her Latino contemporaries currently write about these topics as well.

Book summary

“Aura” is one of the fourteen narratives found in Annecy Baez’s “My Daughter’s eyes and other short stories”. It is a story about four Dominican immigrant girls who live in close proximity to one another. It delves into the family history of the narrator, whose extended family member – Aura – is the focus of the narrative.

Mia (the narrator) talks about their spiritual experiences with Aura, who was a psychic. Some of the themes that have been highlighted in this narrative include: child sexual abuse, teenage self-discovery, spirituality and occult healing. The story ends when Mia and her family have to move back to the Dominican Republic because her dad has secured a job there (Baez, “My Daughter’s eyes and other short stories” 80). She finds it hard to separate from someone she had grown so close to; that is, Aura.

Background information on Annecy Baez

In order to understand the narrative “Aura” fully, it is crucial to do a biographical analysis of the author’s life. This stems from the fact that writers draw inspiration from the experiences that surround them. The authors’ intention can be properly understood through her settings.

This biographical critic will prevent any misreading that can arise out of the universality or the temporal nature of the literary piece. Annecy Baez was born in the Dominican Republic, but immigrated to the US when she was a little child. She was raised in the Bronx, where she learnt to love books at an early age. When she was thirteen years old, this writer moved back to the Dominican Republic with her parents.

Later, she moved back to the US, and still continued to live in the Bronx. She went on to study social work and is currently the Director of a therapeutic centre. She found solace in writing because she had dealt with a lot of sexual abuse in her social work. Baez asserts that she writes because this allows her to escape from the trauma of her patient’s experiences. Indeed, this author’s ability to delve into a taboo subject such as sexual abuse in ‘Aura’ probably stems from her profession. One of the characters in the story is a pedophile.

When the teenage girls talk about the child abuser, Rosa claims that she will shrink his ‘thing’ (Baez, “My Daughter’s eyes and other short stories” 75). These were probably sentiments that many of Annecy Baez’s victims shared. Baez has a very elaborate family; in one of her self-titled blogs, the author talks about the loss of an aunt called Joviat who suffered from cancer.

In that same paragraph, she mentions her dead mother who died of cancer, and her niece who is also battling blood cancer (Baez, “My Daughter’s eyes blog” 3). In the story ‘Aura’, Mia mentions that cancer was a family problem. She must have been talking about the author’s real-life experience. Perhaps the most important component that one can deduce from Annecy Baez’s life is that she loved her family.

The author complained that compiling all the short stories took a lot of time and commitment; a fact that separated her from her family. These was something that disturbed her, since she loved to spend time with them. The same warmth and love radiate towards the family members in the short story ‘Aura’. When Mia was about to leave for the Halloween ritual, her parents send her away with the love of God (Baez, “My Daughter’s eyes and other short stories” 73).

She explains how her mother vowed to take care of Aura even when Aura’s mother was not legally married to Mia’s maternal grandfather. These are all signs of an understanding and loving family. Since so many components of this short story resemble the author’s real life, it can be said that Aura was semi autobiographical.

The book was published in 2007, but its work began as far back as 1995. Aura, just like other stories in the collection, was a reflection of major trends in minority or latino literature. Latino literature in the twenty-first century draws inspiration from three major categories: A writer’s Spanish heritage, the mythical world, and the intersection of Spanish culture with American culture (Castro-Klaren 109).

Most writings in the 2000s have themes that emanate from these sources, and they include: life in the Latino-based district of a city in the US, an exploration of certain myths, self-exploration, migratory experiences, social exploitation, and social protest. ‘Aura’ contains little bits of these themes in the story.

For instance, the story is about mythology because it vividly describes a cleansing ceremony in which Aura removes spirits from another man’s head. It is debatable whether the ‘patient’ el Doctor really turned green when they did this. Furthermore, this same person eventually forgets about the whole experience. The narrative also talks about card reading and other unconventional forms of spirituality.

The non-judgmental tone that the writer uses to talk about these things testifies to her acceptance of that part of her life. The narrative is also about self-exploration. Many minority writers have focused on this theme because they have unique challenges as people with dual heritages. This is especially true for people who were raised in the US. The teenage girls in Aura are such individuals; they wore Halloween costumes, but still performed psychic rituals.

They spoke Spanish and English; however, they also wanted the same things that other American teenage girls wanted like wearing make up. The story is also about migratory experiences. Mia has to leave the Bronx when her father finds another job in their native country. These dramatic changes can be very disturbing for a teenager who has already grown accustomed to her life in the US. Mia and her friends had to conform to their parent’s conservative beliefs – like boys are horrible – even when the girls would have preferred otherwise.

These challenges are symptomatic of many immigrant experiences. The story is also about life in the immigrant based City of the narrator. From her descriptions of el Doctor’s leaflet distribution, one learns that there are plenty of Latina speakers in her neighborhood (Baez, “My Daughter’s eyes and other short stories” 78). It appears to be a ‘home away from home’ for them.

Works Cited

Baez, Annecy. My Daughter’s eyes and other short stories. NY: Curbstone Press, 2007. Print.

Baez, Annecy. My Daughter’s eyes blog. Annecy Baez Blogspot, 12 Sept. 2011. Web.

Castro-Klaren, Sara. A companion to Latin American literature and culture. NY: Harcourt Brace, 2008. Print.

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