Study Guide

Chucha in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

By Julia Alvarez

Chucha

Chucha is the García family's cook, and she's been with them since Mami was in diapers. Actually, she's been with the family since 1937. This is how we know:

Chucha is Haitian, and as a native French-speaker, has trouble pronouncing certain Spanish words. Like perejil, the word for parsley. (3.1.85)

In 1937, dictator and supreme genocidal maniac Rafael Trujillo ordered that all Haitians on the Dominican side of the border be killed. In order to tell if someone were Haitian, guards forced everyone to pronounce the word perejil. If a person couldn't say it without a French accent, they were killed. This atrocity is known today as El Corte (The Cutting) in Spanish, and The Parsley Massacre in English.

Chucha came to the de la Torre family seeking refuge from this terrible genocide. So part of her function in the book is to inform us about this devastating moment in history.

Chucha also serves as a foil for the García sisters, because she, like they, is an immigrant in a strange country. She too experiences discrimination from the lighter-skinned Dominican maids. She too is homesick. This is what she says when she finds out the girls are moving to the U.S.: "When I was a girl, I left my country too and never went back. Never saw father or mother or sisters or brothers" (3.1.92).

Finally, Chucha's own reflections on the departure of the García family really hammer home the idea that leaving your homeland is like dying. Chucha calls the U.S. "a nation of zombies," and says: "I worry about them, the girls, Doña Laura, moving among men the color of the living dead" (3.1.94). And then she goes to lie down for a nap in her coffin. Her coffin, folks. Symbol o' death alert!

So maybe Chucha is a little morbid. But she sure knows how to make a point.

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