Se Habla Espanol By Tanya Barrientos An Analytical Summary Tre A. Williams Kimberly Muirhead English 115 11/14/2012 Tanya Maria Barrientos, a journalist by profession and an upcoming author is Guatemalan by birth. However she has been living in America for almost fifty years after coming from her native country at the age of three. The essay ‘Se Habla Espanol’ is a poignant depiction of the search for her misplaced identity that she desperately tried to forget in her formative years.
Her aversion towards her own ethnicity can be summarized by this quote of hers, “when I was sixteen, I told my father how much I hated being called Mexican-not only because I wasn’t, but also because the word was hurled as an insult” (Page 59). The most important point of the essay is the difficulty the immigrants face while growing up in a land, which is not their by birth as how they are inherently misfit in the society, yet they desperately want to merge into it by forgetting their language and ignoring their last names.
Barrientos starts the essay the quite aptly by depicting her child hood days as how her parents consciously forgot their own culture to assimilate their kids in the alien ‘gringo’ culture. Although they themselves talked to each other in Spanish, yet they talked to their kids in English, maintain the American culture within the house and kept their kids as far away as possible from other Latin Americans and Latin American Culture. The result was dark skinned kids who consider themselves white and hate to be called Latin American or Mexican.
Barrientos’ mental state in her growing years can be ascertained by these words, “I enjoyed looking into the faces of Latino store clerks and waitresses and, yes, even our maid, and saying ‘yo no hablo espanol’. It made me feel superior. It made me feel American. It made me feel white” (Page 58). The situation completely changed when Barrientos reached her 20’s. Suddenly the societal conditions changed and the country woke up to recognize various cultures and ethnicities that made the United States of America that we know today.
The culture baggage was no longer considered a baggage now and in fact it gave uniqueness to the immigrants. Now, Barrientos tries to learn Spanish and also desperately tries to search her lost identity while learning Spanish. However, now the unfortunate thing is that in spite of trying hard in learning Spanish, she is still managed to understand and haltingly speak Spanish that makes her stick out in her own community and she can never gel completely within her own community.
The purpose of Barrientos’ writing clearly indicates the experience, the second generation immigrants feel, behave and communicate in the modern American society. She explains the experience of her life and analyzes the difficulties she had to endure throughout her life. Her audience primarily is young and most of them are not white Americans like her. The exceptional thing about Barrientos’ essay is that she has written it in a very exceptional, lucid and easy to understand English.
Thus, Se Habla Espanol is an excellent essay, which depicts and analyzes a modern day issue, which has established as a major phenomenon in today’s world. Moreover, it is very much evident in America because it has always been a melting pot of varied cultures belonging to all over the world. References Create. (2001). ENC 1101. Corinthian. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill. Border-Line Personalities: A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass, and Cultural Shifting [Paperback] Michelle Herrera Mulligan (Author), Robyn Moreno (Author) Se Habla Espanol ByTanya Barrientos page 167.