Study Guide

Fifi (Sofia) in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents

By Julia Alvarez

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Fifi (Sofia)

Wild Thing

Sofía is the baby of the family, but when it comes to rebellion, she leaves her sisters in the dust. As a teenager, she holds the coveted title of "Wild Child" the longest. When she really outdoes herself, her impressed sisters ask: "Wow, Fifi, how could you?" And then Fifi just gives them "bad-girl grins and the catchphrase of the Alka-Seltzer commercial, 'Try it, you'll like it!'" (1.5.1).

Fifi is the daring one—the one who has her own marijuana, and doesn't just bum off friends at parties—and she has a good sense of humor, too. When told by her aunt to "examine her conscience," she jokes:

"I have, I have, [...] and the problem isn't I can't find anything to worry about but that I find so much!" (2.1.34)

Is This the Anti-Fifi?

Fifi does go through a weird phase where all her feminist ideals seem to go out the window. When she decides to live on the Island for a year, Fifi starts dressing up like her chic, dressed-to-the-nines cousins:

"Fifi—who always made a point of not wearing makeup or fixing herself up. Now she looks like the after person in one of those before-after makeovers in magazines" (2.1.53).

But it's much worse than that. Then she starts dating her macho cousin, who won't let her wear pants in public, talk to another man, or read a book. Not cool. Fortunately, the sisters stage an intervention, and manage to bring Fifi back to her senses.

Miss Independent

Even though Fifi drops out of college and doesn't have any advanced degrees, everyone in the family regards her as "the smart one." As Mami puts it: "I don't mean books either! I mean smart" (1.3.128). She's super practical, logical, and confident. Listen to her convince her boyfriend Otto to marry her, for example: "'I can love you as much as anybody else,' she said. 'If you can do the same for me, let's get married'" (1.2.27). How could he refuse?

In fact, Sofía's lack of degrees is kind of a sign of her independent nature. Even though she's the baby, for example, Fifi is the first to leave home. The narrator explains, "She had always gone her own way, though she downplayed her choices, calling them accidents" (1.2.15). (And she's modest, too!)

Work It, Girl. You're an Animal!

Fifi also seems completely comfortable in her own skin, unlike her sisters Yoyo (who's anxious around men) and Sandi (who develops an eating disorder). Even though "she was considered the plain one" of the sisters, she has "non-stop boyfriends," and gives great dating advice (1.2.15).

There's something almost animal-like about Fifi's comfort in her own body. Yoyo thinks her "breathing in the dark room was like having a powerful, tamed animal at the foot of her bed ready to protect her" (1.2.15). Fifi just oozes sexual confidence. That's probably why she's the one with the happiest, healthiest marriage:

Sofía planted a large hand on his shoulder, and anyone could see how it must be between them in the darkness of their love-making. (1.2.30)

And it's also probably the reason all of her husband's friends are "half in love with Sofía anyway" (1.2.39).

Fifi's sexy confidence isn't the only animalistic part of her personality. She also gets her animal on when she gets angry. Like when she yells at her dad for snooping through her stuff:

"It's none of your f***ing business!" she said in a low, ugly-sounding voice like the snarl of an animal who could hurt him. "You have no right, no right at all, to go through my stuff or read my mail!" Tears spurted out of her eyes, her nostrils flared. (1.2.24)

Her anger is described as a "biological rather than a romantic fury" (1.2.20). Growl. You do not want to make this lady angry.

You don't need to worry, though, because for the most part, Fifi is pretty chill. There's a "sweetness in her nature" that leads her to be the family peacemaker, most of the time (1.2.25). Whenever she senses "trouble brewing" between two of the sisters, she's the one who "changes the subject" (1.3.157). She just wants everyone to get along.

Daddy's Girl

A discussion of Fifi isn't complete without acknowledging the weird thing that happens between her and her father in Chapter 2, "The Kiss." While all four daughters have a pretty flirty relationship with Papi, Fifi is the one who really makes it obvious that there's something sort of incestuous about it.

After months of being ignored by Papi, Fifi throws him a big party to get back in his good graces. When he continues to ignore her, here's how she reacts:

After all her hard work, she was not to be included in his daughter count. Damn him! She'd take her turn and make him know it was her! 

Quickly, she swooped into the circle and gave the old man a wet, open-mouthed kiss in his ear. She ran her tongue in the whorls of his ear and nibbled the tip. Then she moved back. (1.2.61-62)

Shocking. But while Papi is embarrassed (and furious) about this overly sexual kiss from his daughter, Fifi isn't bothered at all:

On the face of his youngest was the brilliant, impassive look he remembered from when she had snatched her love letters out of his hands. (1.2.65)

Why isn't she as creeped out as he is? Is it because Fifi thinks sexual attraction is natural, even towards your own father? Is it because this incestuous flirtation has been going on for years, and she's just taking it to new level? Is it just because she's so used to being the Wild Child in the family, shocking her sisters and everybody else? We'll leave that conclusion to you, Oh Astute Shmooper.

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