Study Guide

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Family

By Julia Alvarez

Family

Everything about How The García Girls Lost Their Accents just screams 'Family.' From the title, which unifies the four sisters under the family name García, to the cute family tree at the book's opening, to the way the names of family members provide a heading to each chapter—the idea of family is totally inescapable.

If this seems oppressive to you, you're picking up on something; the girls sometimes find their family to be suffocating. Mami, Papi and all their relatives in the Dominican Republic have very strict ideas about what girls can and cannot do. But when the girls ultimately win their fight for independence, they realize they don't really want to leave their family... 'cause they love them!

Questions About Family

  1. What sorts of rules do Mami and Papi set for their four girls? Do you think these rules would be different if the four girls were four boys?
  2. What kind of relationship do the four girls have with their father? Why do you think they interact this way? Does it have anything to do with the family's ideas about the role of women?
  3. How do the García girls rebel against their parents and their extended family?
  4. How does the experience of living in exile in the United States affect the García family? Does it change their relationships with other family members?

Chew on This

The open-mouth kiss that Fifi gives her father crosses a line. It takes the vaguely incestuous flirtation between the father and the four girls out of the realm of the suggestive, and makes it totally explicit. In this novel, everything's cool when the incestuous feelings are unconscious, but when these feelings are made explicit, it's a no-no.

Like the baby monkeys Carla reads about in her psychology class, the García girls have been "kept in a cage" for so long by their family's strict rules that they are afraid to come out, even after "the gate swings open, and we can fly the coop" (2.1.149).

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