Introduction and background information
Historically, people from different origins migrated to America in search of better living standards that were lacking in their countries. Persons from Puerto Rica, for example, are among the people who had to leave their countries because of poor economic status. Puerto Ricans were affected mainly in the 19th century, when they were under the Spanish rule. The Spanish people treated them like their subjects, just like what other European nations did in some countries outside Europe. The reasons for their relatively high levels of relocation are partly attributed to the Spanish American war, which made them flee from the Spanish leadership. Initially, they were treated like immigrants to their country by their new rulers (Laviera 34). They were, however, allowed to travel to America without passports after an act of parliament was passed, resulting in many cases of immigration (Laviera 28). They believed that they were going to leave poverty behind and start better lives, just like people in the US. This paper analyzes two authors, giving their similarities and differences in view of their thematic presentations, especially in regards to the affirmation of sexuality that is evident during the maturation processes of the main characters. The two authors whose stories are analyzed in this paper are Angie Cruz and Nicholasa Mohr. It also looks at the viewpoints of the novelists in the contexts of expressing the relationships between power and reactions to oppressive social structures. Thus, the aspects of gender and immigration are the pillars of this paper.
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Soledad by Angie Cruz
Angie Cruz was born in America to an American father and a Puerto Rican mother. The parents separated when she was still young, and this made her life somewhat difficult. In her novel, Soledad, she has brought to the fore an aspect of sexuality in an artistic manner. The story is about a girl, Soledad, who is talented in art and lives away from home. As the story begins, readers are informed that Soledad has to return home to look after her mother, who is critically ill. It is worth to state that the girl is now independent, which is demonstrated by the fact that she lives far from her home (Cruz and Rosario 749). The novel revolves around several female characters, including her sister and her aunt, who is a witch. From the story, one can directly link the story of Cruz with that of Soledad. During her process of maturation, she had the kind of life that Soledad has in the novel. She became independent at the age of 18, moving into her apartment, although her mother did not like the idea. Cruz believes that she can do anything that men can do, and her relatively high levels of influence are obtained from male dominant figures, such as Malcolm X. In fact, the book holds that Cruz aspires to be like Malcolm X in the future.
Being an immigrant, she has to fight for survival in such a way that she stands out from what her other people are undergoing, including poverty and prejudices. She so much believes in the power of women. Females can change their minds when convinced by males. Unlike Cruz, Soledad believes that women have nothing in the society, but subjects to men. According to Cruz, immigrant women get married to get financial support and education from their husbands (Cruz 65). She portrays this through her main character to express her view on the aspect of sexuality in society. Thus, Soledad will only marry a person because she likes him, but not for the reasons of passion and love that should be expressed in the long-term (Cruz 76). Owing to the problems that Cruz has experienced in her life, she uses the main character to put across her emotions to the world. Soledad says that “I want to find a mountain that I can sit on that will never change or move, which I can always come to when I am stressed. I want that in a man, in my family, and in my home. I am tired of the unpredictable world” (Cruz 68). Having been raised by a single mother, her experiences are not different from Soledad’s. In the first chapter of the novel, the novelist uses Soledad to express her views of what she wants in marriage, i.e., to get a man that she loves, to be independent, and to lead a real life.
The novel presents a young woman, who is doing all she can to escape from the life she is living for a better one. Thus, she is not happy with the social structures that are used to oppress women. Toward the end of the story, the author has attempted to show the character’s appreciation on where she comes from, regardless of how ugly it might be to readers (Cruz and Rosario 749). The illustration of the love of one’s environment is seen when we note Soledad returning home to aid her ailing mother, and she is forced to investigate the death of her father. In this context, Cruz is communicating through her writing, telling us that, although people may find things difficult in a particular place, they cannot entirely run from a place that they once called a home. The book also gives the reader an idea that it is not only a place that has an impact on a person’s life, but also the community in which he or she lives. Finally, there is a clear expression that women would want to be powerful people in communities, just like men.
Old Mary by Nicholasa Mohr
The other author discussed in this paper is Nicholasa Mohr, whose works include Old Mary, through which she introduces readers to an immigrant woman, Mary. The main character receives a letter from her son, who she has not seen for over thirty years since she migrated from Puerto Rica. Mary, just like other immigrants, believes that moving to America would change her life. Thus, when her son sends a letter to tell her about his coming to America, she is overwhelmed with joy because she believes that he would change her life. This is based on her assumption that he is more energetic to scramble for opportunities in the US. Readers not that “…at the hotel all that the workers ever talked about was going to New York City. In New York, they said that wages were high, and opportunities were more than in other parts of the United States. Old Mary knew that she had to go there” (Mohr 12). In her story, Mohr shows the reader how a significant number of people saw migration to New York as an improvement of their lives. Mary puts all her hopes to her son, because not only is he younger and stronger, but also for the reason that he is a man that would tell her about everything that she wants to know. She believes that the discipline of her other children would improve when her son would be around. In addition, she would have maximum protection. The novel focuses on “the theme of women dependency on men” (Mohr 56). For instance, there is a girl that is a drug addict in the novel, but she says that the fact she does not know her father is the reason behind her drug addiction. Readers note that “So you steal, and you turn a few tricks and then you get a man for protection. A pimp, so you got more rights on the street” (Mohr 41). In her book, the author addresses the issue of sexuality as part of Mary’s and other characters’ maturation processes. It is evident that the Mohr would like to see a community that gives power to women. If the society does not give powers to women, then they would be typified by high levels of fear and anxiety. The expressions of the author are highlighted in the context of responding to oppressive structures in communities.
The two authors have both similarities and differences, but their narrations are based on a similar origin. They have written their stories using females as the main characters, but from different points of view. They show that the aspects of culture, power distributions, and oppressive social structures negatively impact immigrants. Cruz presents her woman character as a person that is struggling to be independent, regardless of social pressure. Mohr, on the other hand, portrays women in a male dominated society, where they are helped by men to perform their tasks. The theme of migration and gender is discussed in the two stories in a way that is not straightforward. The authors, being women, one would expect that the line of argument would be similar, but this is not the case with two writers. They address all the problems that are associated with migration, but the presentations of relationships of power and reactions to oppressive structures are slightly different.
Cruz, Angie, and Nelly Rosario. “Angie Cruz in Conversation with Nelly Rosario.” Callaloo 30.3 (2008): 743-753. Print.
Cruz, Angie. Soledad. London, United Kingdom: Simon and Schuster, 2001. Print.
Laviera, Tato. La carreta made a U-turn. New York, NY: Arte Público Press, 2000. Print.
Mohr, Nicholasa. In Nueva York. New York, NY: Arte Publico Press, 2009. Print.