by Paul Fleischman
Seedfolks Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I gave her a smile and showed her that I was just giving her plants some water. This made her eyes go even bigger. I stood up slowly and backed away. I smiled again. She watched me leave. We never spoke one word. (3.12)
This is the first time Wendell and Kim interact—and they don't say a peep. But even with all this silence, they find a new way to communicate: Wendell smiles and Kim uses her eyes. Even without words, somehow they seem to understand one another. Now those are some powerful facial expressions.
Two years after my father and I moved here from Guatemala, I could speak English. I learned it on the playground and watching lots of TV. Don't believe what people say—cartoons make you smart. But my father, he worked all day in a kitchen with Mexicans and Salvadorans. His English was worse than a kindergartner's. He would only buy food at the bodega down the block. Outside of there he lowered his eyes and tried to get by on mumbles and smiles. He didn't want strangers to hear his mistakes. So he used me to make phone calls and to talk to the landlady and to buy things in stores where you had to use English. He got younger. I got older. (4.3)
Gonzalo is a quick learner. He's speedy at learning English and now he's comfortable using it around town. But Gonzalo's dad has a tougher time learning a new language, to the point that he doesn't want to socialize with neighbors who don't speak Spanish. So instead, Gonzalo's dad uses "mumbles and smiles." Smiles were a pretty powerful communication tool for Kim and Wendell, too—are they positive here, too?
Tío Juan was smiling and trying to tell him something. The man couldn't understand him and finally went back to digging. (4.7)
Ah, neighborly love. Gonzalo's great uncle, Tío Juan, is trying to talk to Wendell about gardening. But the downside is that Wendell and Tío Juan can't get past their different languages. Remember, Wendell speaks English and Tío Juan speaks "an Indian language" that Gonzalo never specifies (4.5). Do you think this language barrier keeps Tío Juan and Wendell from communicating? How so?