Reading Poetry

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Reading Poetry: Woman's Work by Julia Alvarez

Reading Poetry: Woman's Work by Julia Alvarez

What is this poem about?

The focus of theme of the poem is about Woman's work or housekeeping. The traditional and gender specific roles assigned to woman is criticized in the poem by the Julia Alvarez (Dea, Richards & Collins, 2006).

The author of this poem is of Dominican descent. How might this fact have influenced the writing of this poem?

Alvarez manipulates literary genres in all of her novels, which present both history and autobiography in the form of fictionalized memoirs, the validity of which are further called into question through the device of competing narratives. In this way, Alvarez seeks not authentic documentation, but rather an imaginative view of the past that incorporates the perspectives of its many participants, according none superiority. Alvarez's most personal collective histories are How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, a PEN/Faulkner award winner, and both of which are based on her family's immigration experience. Alvarez's novels have contributed greatly to critical theories about multiculturalism. She is generally considered one of the earliest writers to move away from the static binaries of home/exile and patriot/expatriate, instead revealing the fluidity of the immigrant experience through shifting narrative perspectives, nonlinear chronology, and geographic flux (Christie & Gonzalez, 2006). For the most part, critics consider Alvarez's novels to embody the author's theory about hybrid identities.

How might this poem reveal something about the author's personality or values?

The main theme of the poem is gender specific roles allocated to women, in particular the author has highlighted housekeeping although, and Alvarez was born in New York City in 1950. When she was just three months old, her parents, both native Dominicans, decided to return to their homeland. Alvarez's father, a medical doctor, actively participated in the underground movement to overthrow U.S.-backed dictator Rafael Trujillo. However, her father was continually spared in the government's regular purges of dissidents because of his wife's wealthy and powerful family, which had strong ties to the United States. According to Alvarez, her parents feigned an obsession with all things American as a strategy for survival, seeking to conceal their opposition to Trujillo's regime (Kennedy, 2011; Wheeler, 2012). Following an aborted assassination attempt on Trujillo in 1960, the Alvarez family moved back to the United States. Four months after their escape, the founders of the underground, the Mirabal sisters, were murdered. The Mirabal sisters are the subject of Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies, which was adapted into a popular film starring Salma Hayek in 2001. Trujillo was ultimately assassinated in 1961, ending his thirty-year reign.

Growing up in the Bronx, Alvarez and her sisters experienced American culture firsthand. In her first novel, How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Alvarez documents the ambivalence she and her siblings felt toward their adopted country as a result of their prior experience with American government and business infiltration in the Dominican Republic. Alvarez's adolescence is also recollected in the essay collections Something to Declare ...
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