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

16. The Search For Identity

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Activities: Author Activities

Sandra Cisneros - Author Questions

Back Back to Sandra Cisneros Activities
  1. Comprehension: Why does the narrator of "My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn" want her skin to "get so dark it's blue where it bends like Lucy's"? Why does she like Lucy so much?

  2. Comprehension: The narrator asks a series of questions in the final paragraph of "Barbie-Q." For whom does the narrator speak? Who is the audience of these questions? Is Cisneros directly challenging the reader?

  3. Comprehension: In "Mericans," why does the narrator call her relative the "awful" grandmother?

  4. Context: Compare the writing style and punctuation in "My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn" to Diane Glancy's in "Jack Wilson." Why might these writers independently choose these similar styles? Or, why might they choose not to write with textbook grammar and punctuation?

  5. Context: In "Barbie-Q," why do the children make their Barbies act in certain ways (e.g., fighting over a nonexistent man, the missing Ken doll) and wear certain clothes? If the girls are modeling behavior that they've witnessed, who are the models?

  6. Context: In "Mericans," the grandmother and narrator visit a Catholic church, where the narrator describes icons that have survived attacks: "La Virgen de Guadalupe on the main altar because she's a big miracle, the crooked crucifix on a side altar because that's a little miracle." What does this statement mean? Compare these descriptions of the church and its altar (see archive item [6394]--"Altar de la Virgen de Guadalupe") to the picture. What are the most significant similarities and differences? Why have an altar in a home in addition to one in a church?

  7. Exploration: In "My Lucy Friend Who Smells Like Corn," it seems like the narrator fantasizes about a woman-only utopia when she envies Lucy's all-girl family: "There ain't no boys here." What is appealing about Lucy's family community? Why does the narrator want to be one of the sisters? What does it mean to be sisters?

  8. Exploration: "Barbie-Q" presents, in doll form, many different "types" of women by listing different Barbie dolls and outfits: "mean-eyed," "bubblehead," "Career Gal," "Sweet Dreams," "Bendable Legs." You can find other "types" by visiting the doll aisle in a toy store. Is Cisneros criticizing the makers of dolls such as Barbie or the culture that buys into these images of women? What is she saying about the importance of clothes in constructing identity?

  9. Exploration: Are the girls in this story weak or crybabies? Do they go along with the boys' games so as not to be left out? Consider the comment, "I'd rather play flying feather dancers, but if I tell my brother this, he might not play with me at all." Why are the girls always the sidekicks in these games? Does Cisneros seem to blame the boys for imposing their games on the girls, or the girls for going along with the boys? Is she also critiquing gender conditioning in American society--are boys and girls "trained" to act a certain way?

  10. Exploration: At the story's end, the children have become a spectacle--a tourist attraction for out-of-place visitors who want to take pictures as souvenirs. The tourist is surprised when she learns that the young Chicano children can speak English. Why does she think they are not Americans and cannot speak English? What is Cisneros saying about what it means to be an American? What does an American look like, sound like, do? Consider these questions in relation to archive items [6525] (La Familia mural) and [6528] (We Are Not a Minority mural).

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