‘The Gift’ is considered to be a short story written by well known Puerto Rican essayist and writer, Rosario Ferre Ramirez. The work of the author is dedicated to the analysis of racial prejudice role on the basis of Puerto Rican cultural identity creation, emphasizing marginal women’s position. It is necessary to underline the idea that this theme is the principle characteristic of many writer’s work, through which she strived to reflect her personal experience and the life of society observed in her country. The analysis of the story “The Gift” is to be concentrated on the identification of the key concepts, elements and stylistic devices, used in the author’s writing for the successful representation of the main idea.
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In order to understand the deep sense of the story written by Rosario Ferre, it is necessary to dive into the brief analysis of the writer’s style observed in major works. One should stress that Rosario Ferre is concentrated on the centralization of such concepts, as class, race, sexuality and gender problems promotion in Puerto Rico, in order to demonstrate the interconnection between the past and present through the exploration of Western myths and folktales. She always tried to overturn the female stereotypes on the basis of women’s relation to the Puerto Rican socio-economic structure. According to Carmen Rivera, ‘Ferre seems to warn her readers that when a woman’s voice and sexuality is confined and ‘gagged’ by male oppression, she begins to rot and smell as decomposed flesh beneath the ever passive beauty of her porcelain face’ (Arnold and Dash, 213)
The story ‘The Gift’ is included in Ferre’s collection ‘The Poisoned Tale’; it is considered to be directed at the disclosure of friendship theme through the key concepts characterizing the author’s works. The story is about two girls from Puerto Rico having strong friendship relationships in a Catholic school for girls. The relationships are analyzed on the basis of rational differences perception, illustrating the friendship between the dark and the light girls at school. The story is considered to be an overt critique of educational, social, and religious values of the Hispanic Antilles society. The School of the Sacred Heart is open to nouveau riche and outside impacts. Carlotta’s coming to the school challenges the nuns’ control over the students; the girl was a member of a poor elitist environment, having strong ties with the external world. The status of the carnival queen leads to the girl’s being expelled from the school. Mercedita, who is the prominent student and the richest girl, leaves the education with her friend Carlotta, who is the embodiment of true friendship relationships, spiritual and physical liberation. Carlotta presents mango to Mercedita, as the symbol of beauty and nature, rejecting the school corrupting values and the of mother’s feeling of superiority. (Flores, 125)
Rosario Ferre managed to reflect the elements of elitism and racism observed in the society and within church hierarchy. Ferre’s aggressive address to the concept of racism is expressed through the example of interracial relationships; the girls belonging to different origins, are considered to be the key characters of the story; the author selected Catholic school as the main story setting in order to connect religious motives to the principle problems of ethnic and racial inequalities in Puerto Rico. One should underline the idea that the story can be perceived as the author’s exploration of girls’ duality and whore and lady juxtaposition.
Special attention is to be paid to the symbols analysis; it is necessary to underline the fact that ‘The Gift’ appeared to be a symbolic story reflecting the values, centralized concepts and cultural elements characterizing the social life in Puerto Rico. Ferre managed to make ‘gift’ be the central symbol element; it was twice-given being gradually changed in symbolism. It is necessary to underline the fact that the author depicted how the gift is changed from a pageant prize to the present of friendship of sarcastic massive. One more symbolic meaning in the story is given to the food; this subtopic is considered to be the method of highlighting indirectly the elements of Puerto Rican culture. Food appeared to be the symbol of decay and friendship, underlining the peculiarities of girls’ relationships under the impact of social order, standards and norms accepted in the state they live in. Ferre’s work ‘The Gift’ is considered to be a valuable contribution to the literature genre perception, attracting critical attention to the style and manner of author’s writing. Diane Marting stressed that, ‘female characters in Rosario’s gift suffer from the type of self-destructive behavior’. (Marting, 169)
So, the analysis of the story ‘The Gift’ written by an outstanding and well known writer, Rosario Ferre Ramirez, appeared to be the reflection of the principle cultural, economic and social problems faced by the Puerto Rican population. It is necessary to underline the idea that the writer successfully demonstrated the major concepts by means of symbolism and philosophical analysis of the natural social environment. The work is considered to be a valuable contribution to the world of literature, through its investigation of such popular themes, as racial inequalities, corruption, educational prejudices, and class differences.
Arnold, A. and Dash, M. A ‘History of Literature in the Caribbean: Hispanic and francophone regions’. John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1994.
Flores, A. ‘Spanish American authors: the twentieth century: The Gift’. Wilson, 1992.
Marting, D. ‘Spanish American women writers: a bio-bibliographical source book’. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990.