||To explore culture and personal identity through our name stories.
||What does a name say about a person? If you could change your name to anything, what would it be?
- Read Sandra Cisneros’s “My Name” and take notes.
- Content – Discuss cultural issues inherent to her name.
* Is this story really about a name?
Linguistic dichotomy — English/Spanish
* How does the fact that the story is written in English emphasize the “language politics” of a nine-year-old girl?
Gender expectations — weak women who must marry
*What is the speaker’s purpose in revealing the reality of the women in her family?
*Does Esperanza have the power to really baptize herself and become a different category of “woman”? Is Zeze the X gender neutral?
Cultural hybridity — “Mexican,” “American,” “Chinese”
*To which culture does the speaker belong?
Legacy — inheriting grandma’s place by the window
*Is there evidence that Esperanza has already inherited this place?
Private/public self — sister can be Nenny ay home; Esperanza wants to have a “stage name” like “Zeze the X.”
* Is the name part of the public or the private self?
Cultural nostalgia — father’s “sobbing” songs; “and the story goes she never forgave him”
*How does the “fogginess” of these memories make the story more or less believable?
- Craft — Discuss how Cisneros conveys these meanings.
*How does the craft transform potential “tangents” into essential descriptors?
- Sentence variety (“a muddy color” masquerades as a complete sentence)
- Voice (she weaves between the voice of a child and a wistful adult)
- Sensory images (songs like sobbing; women sitting their sadness on an elbow; soft vs. thick names)
- Figurative language (grandma is a chandelier; tin syllables)
- Lapses into pretend dialogue (yes — Zeze the X will do)
||Draft your own name story. Use it to tell about your culture. Try to use some of the techniques employed by Cisneros.
||Share name story drafts in small groups or as a whole class.
Look at a sample “name” essay.
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