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Jordan Mersberger

Dr. Laura Issen- FTSY 1311


MHR pg. 251-255

1. What is the thesis of this essay?
Many Latinos have been stereotyped due to a slew of
misinterpreted cultural practices.
2. What does Cofer mean by the expression cultural schizophrenia
(Paragraph 3)?
Cofer is strongly rooted in her culture but everything she has
been taught is now skewed by other citizens that know nothing
more about her culture than what popular media shows them.
She is trying to function in a society that has completely
contrasting views between Latin and American cultures.
3. Define the following words: coveted (paragraph 1), Anglo (paragraph
4), coalesced (paragraph 5), machismo (paragraph 7) and entrees
(paragraph 13).
Coveted: to have a deep desire for
Anglo: A white person/ a white American
Coalesced: To add to and mix with
Machismo: Toughness; manliness
Entrees: Gaining access to
1. Cofer uses many anecdotes in her discussion of stereotyping. How
does this affect the tone of the essay?
This lightens the tone a bit and gives more personality to Cofers
essay. One could only imagine the scene on the bus as the Irish
man sang Mara to the Latin Cofer. Through the use of
anecdotes, it was easy to imagine and relate to what she was
going through. Cofer did a good job of being straightforward
enough to get her point across while mixing in the short personal
accounts to keep the reader entertained while making them look
at an issue from her point of view.

2. Who is the implied audience for this essay? What aspects of the writing
led you to your conclusion?
The audience is clearly everyone who shows ignorance while
pertaining to the topic of Latin culture. This was simply an
enlightening essay that debunked a few of the common
misconceptions about Latinas and their culture. Her stories and
her expression of her feelings about what happened in the
stories led me very directly to my conclusion. For example, she
talks about the man at the classy hotel that sang an offensive
song to her, mocking the piropos that are a part of the Latin
3. This essay is written in the first person, which tends to reveal a lot
about the writers personality. What adjectives come to mind when you
think of the writers singular voice?
Jovial, educated, reminiscent, stereotyped, and voiced are the
first adjectives that come to mind while thinking about the
writers singular voice.
4. Although the essay has a sociological theme, Cofer demonstrates that
she has a poets sensitivity towards language. What in the following
sentence from paragraph 7 demonstrates this poetic style: It is
custom, however, not chromosomes, that leads us to choose scarlet
over pale pink? Select two other sentences from the essay that
demonstrate Cofers stylistic talent, and explain why they, too, are
The use of colors and the meaning behind the two contrasting
colors and ideas is what makes this line poetic. when I willed
her to look up at me, she graciously allowed me to punish her
with my full attention. Is a part of a sentence that is extremely
poetic. The entire line is figurative and has a lot of power and
creativity while talking about how both people felt in that
situation. Another sentence that stands out with poetic ability is
But with some people, the same things can make you an island
not a tropical paradise but an Alcatraz, a place nobody wants
to visit. This sentence makes one feel like an inanimate object
and a scenic idea at the same time. It also personifies the idea of
an island, inlaying ones feelings and emotions into the sentence.

5. In paragraph 8, Cofer contrasts cultural perceptions related to Hispanic

and Anglo behavior. How is this paragraph structured so that this
difference is demonstrated dramatically?
Cofer starts the paragraph by explaining cultural rituals
pertaining to Latin parties. She then changes sides immediately
and retells the story of her first formal dance in which she got
kissed by her date that was under the impression that she
matured early. The first half of the paragraph is an innocent
recollection of a very acceptable form of culture and then is
contrasted by the awkward, gritty, misinterpretation of her
culture by an Anglo at a party.
6. Cofer uses quotation marks to emphasize the connotation of certain
words. Explain the significance of the following words: mature
(paragraph 4), hopeless (paragraph 5), hot tamale (paragraph 6),
wronged (paragraph 7), and decent (paragraph 8).
Mature: Mature means fully developed but in this story it hints at
the fact that the clothing that she is wearing is something that
would be found being worn by someone older and fully conscious
of their choices.
Hopeless: Talking about her clothing, yet again, Cofer brings up
this word to give insight to the mindset of her Anglo colleagues
at Career Day. This word is used to hint that they think that she
has no hope essentially, and that since she doesnt dress the
same as other, she cant possibly fit in in their minds eye.
Hot tamale: Hot tamales have the connotation of being hot,
festive, and (on occasion) spicy. These connotations serve
the stereotype that Latin Americans are colorful, festive, loud,
crazy, and hot.
Wronged: Wronged serves as a placeholder for sexual assault
word with a huge amount of negativity. It works very well
because it keeps the light feeling to the essay without having
that elephant in the room through the use of a subtle word.
Decent: Decent is clearly the opposite of indecent. Indecency
brings with it the sense of filth, grit, offensiveness, and obscenity.

Decent is an easy word to, yet again, keep the story of her
culture light, pure, and innocent.

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