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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

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Activities: Author Activities

Helena Maria Viramontes - Author Questions

Back Back to Helena Maria Viramontes Activities
  1. Comprehension: Early in Under the Feet of Jesus, Estrella thinks, "It was always a question of work, and work depended on the harvest, the car running, their health, the condition of the road, how long the money held out, and the weather, which meant they could depend on nothing." How does this foreshadowing affect the novel?

  2. Comprehension: Do you think Estrella was justified in the actions she took at the doctor's office? Was the nurse to blame? Why or why not?

  3. Comprehension: Why does Viramontes use so many Spanish phrases and sentences in the novel? How does the presence of so much Spanish affect a reader's experience of the text?

  4. Comprehension: What does the statue of Jesucristo represent or symbolize for Petra? What happens to the statue? What might this signify?

  5. Context: Compare and contrast the racial, social, and economic conditions of the migrant workers in Under the Feet of Jesus, America Is in the Heart, and The Grapes of Wrath. Make a table or chart that clearly displays your findings. Create categories that are repeated in all these works.

  6. Context: At the center of Under the Feet of Jesus are two women who must endure enormous suffering and hardship. How does having women as protagonists make this work different from similar works with male protagonists?

  7. Exploration: One definition of charity is benevolence or generosity toward others. Many claim that significant portions of our own social and governmental structures are based on this concept of charity. If this is the case, why is such a lack of charity by either socially dominant white characters or uncaring governmental organizations portrayed in the literary works associated with this unit? In what ways does this lack of charity seem to extend particularly to migrants, immigrants, and minorities?

  8. Exploration: Compare Viramontes to the Chicana authors in Unit 2, particularly to Gloria Anzaldúa and her definition of the Borderlands as an open wound. How are these authors similar? How are they different? Do they concentrate on the same subjects and themes? How do the authors in Unit 2 provide a context for Viramontes's works?

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