Study Guide

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

By Julia Alvarez

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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