Study Guide

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents What's Up With the Epigraph?

By Julia Alvarez

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What's Up With the Epigraph?

No epigraph, but the author does include this super handy family tree!

Hm, a family tree, you say? Seems like "family" might be a pretty important concept in this novel.

But let's take a close look at this family tree. You'll notice it's not exactly a careful genealogical record. It's more of a story-style tree, one that you can imagine the narrator drawing on a paper napkin with her sisters over a bottle of wine. Names aren't all that important (who can remember all those names?). But family legends are. "The Conquistadores" are included, and so is "the great-great-grandfather who married a Swedish girl."

The chart gets a little hazy around all Papi's brothers and sisters (the "33 other known Garcías") and around the "hair-and-nails cousins." But that's not the point. This isn't an objective historical record; it's a self-portrait. This is how the García Girls see themselves. It's where they think they came from. And that makes it a pretty good introduction to their family drama, don't you think?

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