LaGuardia Community College 2002-03 Common Reading
Esmeralda Santiago, When I Was Puerto Rican

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Study Questions for the "American Invasion of Macun" Chapter

  1. Did the "American Invasion of Macun" involve military actions? What did Esmeralda really mean by invasion?

  2. Have you seen similar forms of American invasion in other countries in your own experience? How do you feel about such forms of invasion?

  3. What is the significance of the words "Americano" and "gringo?" (p. 72 to 74) Esmeralda and Papi had a long conversation on this topic. Discuss this in the context of the chapter.

  4. Who was "Eekeh Aysenhouerr?" (p. 72)

  5. Miss Jimenez used quite lively ways to teach Puerto Rican children to learn English. Summarize her teaching methods, and discuss her success/failure.

  6. The following selections were a joke that Esmeralda was telling, and she was making fun of herself and the other Puerto Rican children learning Englsh. Do you know what the joke is about?

    "Are ju slippin? Are ju slippin?
    Bruder John, Bruder John.
    Mornin bel sar rin ging.
    Mornin bel sar rin ging.
    Deen deen don. Deen deen don.
    " (p. 77)
    "My bonee lie sober de o chan,
    My bonee lie sober de si,
    My bonee lie sober de o chan,
    O breen bacK my bonee 2 mi, 2 mi ..."
    (p. 81)

  7. Make a list to summarize all the "generous" actions the American government had done in this time period to help the Puerto Rican people. Also discuss the ultimate motivations behind such activities.

  8. Esmeralda ate something that made her stomach upset and she threw up. What happened to her?

  9. Can you interpret Esmeralda's throwing up of food in a symbolic way? In other words, what really made her sick and what was she rejecting?

  10. Discuss the importance of the parcels sent to the Esmeralda family from Tata, her grandmother, in New York. How did these presents affect Esmeralda's mind?

  11. Esmeralda introduced a long list of attractive material things that she was exposed to in this chapter, e.g. tooth brush, tooth paste, American groceries, etc. Early in the book, she described the poor living conditions in her native village. Such a juxtaposition of events and items serves a special function. Discuss her writing technique and explain why she wrote the chapters that way.

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