Study Guide

How the García Girls Lost Their Accents Society and Class

By Julia Alvarez

Society and Class

How The García Girls Lost Their Accents paints a picture of a very hierarchical Dominican society. The García family belongs to a privileged class of wealthy families who rely on the services and labor of a poor, working class. But we get quite a few hints that this might not be the most stable way to organize a society.

Apparently there are guerillas—revolutionaries—in the mountains. These political grumblings suggest that maybe, just maybe, the privileged few haven't exactly been fair to everybody else. There's not a lot of opportunity for social advancement, especially since the wealthy families just keep intermarrying with one another.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Why is Yoyo's Tía Flor so nervous about having her car break down in a university neighborhood? What other things make Tía Flor nervous?
  2. How do Yoyo's aunts talk to their servants?
  3. What do you think is significant about the Palmolive advertisement featuring a blond woman with "rich white" skin? Can you relate this image to the theme of class in the novel?
  4. How do you think Yoyo feels about the way Dominican society is organized into classes? Do you see any evidence in the chapter "Antojos" that she is critical of the way society is structured? Does Yoyo's critical perspective have anything to do with her being an outsider?

Chew on This

Yoyo is envious of her cousins' lives, but she can't ignore the fact that, in order to live the way they do, they have to treat people unfairly.

Yoyo's aunts and cousins seem to live in constant fear of a threat that they won't give a name to. Maybe they're reluctant to name the threat because doing so would force them to admit their responsibility for supporting social inequality.

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