Study Guide

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Part 2, Chapter 4

By Julia Alvarez

Part 2, Chapter 4

Snow <em>(Yolanda)</em>

  • Yolanda's very first year in the United States, she has a really awesome fourth-grade teacher named Sister Zoe.
  • Yolanda gets her very own special seat in the first row by the window. That way Sister Zoe can give her extra help with her English.
  • Sister Zoe tells the kids about what's going on in Cuba. The Russians are building missiles, and aiming them at the United States. New York City could go ka-boom at any minute.
  • She's referring to an incident called the Cuban Missile Crisis, which some historians say is the closest we ever came to nuclear war. In October of 1962, the U.S. government discovered that the U.S.S.R. was building nuclear missile bases in Cuba.
  • Don't worry—all involved parties took a few deep breaths and removed their fingers from the big red buttons. That's why we're all still alive today. Phew.
  • But keep in mind, Yolanda and her classmates have no idea how the crisis is going to end. Will New York City be wiped off the map in a nuclear explosion?
  • Sister Zoe gives the kids a lesson that could be titled: "What Nuclear Bombs Do and Why They are No Fun."
  • Exhibit A: The Mushroom Cloud: Kind of like a mushroom, but less tasty.
  • Exhibit B: The Radioactive Fallout: Powdery white stuff that will fall on your head and kill you.
  • Winter comes. It's December.
  • One day, Yolanda sits in her special seat by the window and sees little white dots in the air.
  • Yolanda freaks out. Radioactive fallout! They're all going to die! She starts screaming, "Bomb! Bomb!"
  • A few of the students start to cry. Sister Zoe looks shocked—but then she relaxes. That's just snow, Yolanda.

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