Study Guide

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Literature and Writing

By Julia Alvarez

Literature and Writing

A protagonist who's a writer is a big hint that "Literature and Writing" is going to be a theme in How The García Girls Lost Their Accents.

Yolanda is constantly trying to analyze her own life story in search of hidden meaning, the way she learned to do in poetry workshops in college. And the way she treats literature gives us a clue as to how we should approach this book. The meaning isn't always on the surface—literature is like a hidden code that we have to decipher. How cool is that?

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Who writes in the García family, and what kind of writing do they do?
  2. How important is the tradition of oral storytelling in this novel? Which characters tell stories orally? Are their stories any more or less true than the ones that are written down?
  3. Why does Yoyo seem so obsessed with her past? Why does she say she wants to pick apart the story of her first boyfriend, Rudy? And why is she "addicted to love stories with happy endings" after Clive leaves? (1.3.178).
  4. What does Rudy teach Yoyo about poetry? What are the two meanings of "The coming of the spring upon the boughs"? (1.5.17). How does this new understanding about literature change the way we read the last paragraph of "The Rudy Elmenhurst Story"? (Hint: sometimes a bottle of wine is more than just a bottle of wine.)

Chew on This

Carla-the-psychologist's reading of Mami's story "The Red Sneakers" is supposed to come across as a little bit ridiculous. (So the sneakers were red? What's that supposed to mean?) Her character is meant to poke fun of psychological interpretations like psychoanalysis a little bit. Sometimes it can go too far.

Yoyo's lesson in deciphering double meanings in Rudy's pornographic poem gives us permission to read between the lines or other passages in the novel, like the part in "The Kiss" where Papi gets really excited about playing a kissing game with his daughters.

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