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An Excerpt from "Dreams of a Better Life" in When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Author: Esmeralda Santiago

Santiago, Esmeralda. When I Was Puerto Rican, Da Capo Press, 2006, pp. 205-207.

2 additions to document , most recent over 1 year ago

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Jan-29-20 Photograph from Puerto Rico Mio
Jan-29-20 from Puerto Rico Mio, by photographer Jack Delano

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“Next week you will be a teeneyer,” Papi said as we sat on the porch smelling the night air.

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Feb 6
Thomas (Feb 06 2020 10:19AM) : why did the author use the word teeneyer in this book. more

i think he did that to make us think more and more attracted to the book

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Feb 14
Karen (Feb 14 2020 1:42PM) : "teeneyer" meaning more

I think that the author wrote “teeneyer” because it shows how her parents and her don’t know english so she tries to show us that by saying “teeneyer”

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Jun 19
cristin t (Jun 19 2020 7:06PM) : because english wasn't their first language.
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Feb 6
Phoenix (Feb 06 2020 10:20AM) : Why did the author use teeneyer instead of teenager. more

I think the author used teeneyer to show she doesn’t like speaking english.

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Feb 7
Princesa (Feb 07 2020 10:35AM) : translation more

I think its because the author is an immigrant and the English is off

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Feb 6
Allan (Feb 06 2020 10:20AM) : Why did the author use teeneyer instead of teenager? more

I think the author used teeneyer to show how the author doesn’t know english.

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“What’s that?”

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“In the United States, when children reach the age of thirteen, they are called teeneyers. It comes from the ending of the word in English. Thir-teen. Teenager.”

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Feb 12
Princesa (Feb 12 2020 11:09AM) : summary more

I see that the family has been using the us as guidance from the us since Puerto Rico had different language they are getting used to the American language

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Feb 13
Darlenny (Feb 13 2020 10:41AM) : Comment more

I think in the beginning the father is telling the story because of the way the story beginning than later on on the story the daughter is telling it.

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Feb 12
Karen (Feb 12 2020 2:23PM) : "teenayer" not "teenager" more

i think the author wrote “teeneyer” and not “teenager” because it gives us a understanding that she and her parents can’t speak english correctly.

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Feb 14
Wendy (Feb 14 2020 1:28PM) : the author spelled teenager as "teenayer" on purpose more

I agree with you. The way the author spelled ‘teenayer" is on purpose. I think it’s a way of showing us how the can’t speak english fluently.

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Feb 12
Darlenny (Feb 12 2020 2:25PM) : Comment more

The family seems to speak a different language. The fact the father has to say where the are coming from. It makes me think that because of the way he is talking.

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I counted in English to myself. “So I will be a teeneyer until I’m twenty?”

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Feb 12
Dinora (Feb 12 2020 11:12AM) : That teenager was spelled wrong. more

In this sentence I noticed that she was spelling teenager as “teeneyer” and me and my group were very interested in why.

“That’s right. Soon you’ll be wanting to rock and roll.” He laughed as if he had told a very funny joke.

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Feb 13
Giselle (Feb 13 2020 10:27AM) : Stereotyping more

I think the dad is stereotyping all teenagers by saying they like rock and roll

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Feb 14
Matthew (Feb 14 2020 1:37PM) : Father thinks sh will love rock and roll more

Yeah, and when Esmeralda said that she didn’t like it because it was too noisy, he continues to try to convince her that she will like it

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Feb 16
Justin (Feb 16 2020 9:46AM) : If you give rock and roll another chance you will like it more

I don’t like this quote because it’s way he says it

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“I don’t like rock and roll,” I protested. Too noisy. And the words are all in English. I don’t understand the songs.”

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“Mark my words,” he said. “When you’re a teeneyer it’s like something comes over you. Rock and roll sounds good. Believe me.” He laughed as if I knew what he was talking about. I hadn’t seen him this happy in a long time.

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Feb 13
Princesa (Feb 13 2020 10:27AM) : trauma [Edited] more

i notice that the father puts the little girl in a situation that nobody should be in and i feel absolutely awful for her because it sucks to know that many people go through this.

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Feb 6
Thomas (Feb 06 2020 10:10AM) : what is my opinion on rock'n roll [Edited]
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Feb 6
Allan (Feb 06 2020 10:13AM) : What is my opinion in rock n roll as a teenager? more

As a teenager, i feel ok with rock n roll. I listen to it sometimes.

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Feb 6
Phoenix (Feb 06 2020 10:16AM) : What is my opinion as a teenager of rock in roll more

As a teenager rock in roll music is to loud and people kind of get to crazy.

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Feb 12
Liana (Feb 12 2020 2:27PM) : Why hasn't she seen her father happy in a long time? more

Why hasn’t she seen her father happy in a long time? Is it because her father argues a lot with her mother or is it other contributing factors that aren’t shown in the text.

“Well, it’s not going to happen to me.” I pouted and ignored his chuckles at my expense.

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“Just wait,” he said. “Once you’re in New York you’ll become a regular teeneyer Americana.”

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Feb 12
Cristal (Feb 12 2020 11:12AM) : "o more

he is trying to get her hopes up, make her happy, but he’s lying…..Do you think its wrong for him to lie about going to her “dream place”

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Jun 19
cristin t (Jun 19 2020 7:07PM) : i think that what he doing.
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Feb 12
Darlenny (Feb 12 2020 2:28PM) : Comment more

When he mentions this again makes me think she wants to be a teenager. Meaning she is younger than 12.

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Feb 13
Princesa (Feb 13 2020 10:45AM) : what does the father mean by regular teenager ? more
I see that the father is always talking about the way the teenagers in New York. Makes me think he is a bit nervous about the us since his mind is always on this future.
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“I’m not going to New York.”

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Feb 12
Princesa (Feb 12 2020 11:12AM) : opportunities in New York. [Edited] more Tags: new york

New York is seen as a big opportunity from Puerto Rico and other foreign country’s .As a person who grew up in New York i see how this is interpreted knowing people who have been in this situation.

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Feb 12
Justin (Feb 12 2020 2:25PM) : why dont you like new york more

why dont you like new york

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“Your mother’s talking about moving there.”

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Feb 12
Allan (Feb 12 2020 2:22PM) : Why does she want to move to New York? more

The mother of esmeralda was planning to move to New York with her.

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Feb 12
Matthew (Feb 12 2020 2:29PM) : Mother moving away, family and reader learning for the first time [Edited] more

In this paragraph the father tells the family for the first time that the mother will be moving to New York alone. This means that as a reader is learning this at the same time as the family. This could put the reader in an awkward position where they feel like they are there, learning about this news along with the family.

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My stomach fell to my feet. “What?!”

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“Didn’t you tell them, Monin?” He called into the house, where Mami and the kids watched a program on our very own black and white television set.

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Feb 13
Myah (Feb 13 2020 10:25AM) : negis father feels powerful more

negis father in i away it trying to like show off or like rub the fact that negis mom didnt tel negi that they were moving in negis mom face so in a way he feels inpowered

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“Tell them what?” She came out to the porch, hands on hips.

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“That you’re moving to New York.” He didn’t look at her; he just spit out the words like phlegm into the night.

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“Pablo …,” she said as one might murmur a prayer.

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Feb 13
Makayla (Feb 13 2020 10:29AM) : Why not more

why did she decide not to tell her kids that they were moving to New York, its a big thing and they were going to find out anyway.

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“Is it true Mami?” Laughter came from the living room where my sisters and brothers watched Don Cholito’s slapstick.

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“How can you be so cruel?” She said to Papi, “You know I have no choice.”

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Feb 12
John (Feb 12 2020 11:12AM) : The father wants to make it seem like the mother is a bad person for making the children move to the United States.
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Feb 14
Justin (Feb 14 2020 1:31PM) : esmeralds mom need to stop keeping secrets more

why Esmeralds mom like to keep secret

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Feb 13
Darlenny (Feb 13 2020 10:31AM) : Comment more

The father doesn’t want to seem like a bad person. He wants to blame it on the mother.

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Feb 14
Matthew (Feb 14 2020 1:31PM) : Father makes Mother feel bad more

I agree, I think he is trying to make her feel bad and feel like the problem

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“You have a choice,” he growled.

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Feb 12
Myah (Feb 12 2020 11:02AM) : trying to paint negis mom as bad [Edited] more

negis dad was kinda trying to paint negis mom as a bad person when all shes trying to do is create a better life for negi and herself

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Feb 13
Giselle (Feb 13 2020 10:40AM) : Father is trying to make the mother look bad more

The father is trying to make the father look bad by saying that she doesn’t have to move and bring the children with them and trying to blame everything on her

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Feb 14
Wendy (Feb 14 2020 1:39PM) : choice? more

What is the choice that they are talking about?

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“Stay here? Put up with your pocavergüenzas?”

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Feb 13
Myah (Feb 13 2020 10:30AM) : was negis father cheating ? more

in this part she calls her hsband a pocaverguenza which makes me believe that he doesnt give her reason to stay because he does a shameful act in cheating on her

“I’ve given you a home. I’m not a rich man, but we’ve always had enough to eat.”

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Feb 12
Jacqueline (Feb 12 2020 11:12AM) : i think the mom tried to make a point [Edited] more

He told her that he gave them enough and that she didn’t have to move to New York. He told her that he’s not rich but he gave them what is necessary. But his wife is telling him he should be ashamed of himself.

“Do you consider that enough?” Her voice was tense and rising in pitch.

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“I don’t know what you want from me, Monin. I just don’t know.”

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“I’ve lived with you for fourteen years. We have seven children together. You won’t marry me. You won’t leave me alone.”

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Myah (Feb 13 2020 10:19AM) : negis mom explaing herself more

negis mom is trying to explain herself to her father because hes trying to make it seem like ts her fault that shes moving to america when actually negis father is part of the reason why

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“Is that what you want? Marriage? What would that do? I’ve recognized them all. They all have my last name …”

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“Mami, Papi, please.”

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Rage transformed them; a red fury choked the good in both of them and bottled the love they once felt into a dark place where neither could find it.

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“Please stop …”

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Their hands formed into fists; their eyes squinted into slits that sent out invisible daggers.

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“Please, Mami and Papi …”

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They growled words that made no sense, echoes of all the hurts and insults, the dinners gone to waste, the women, the abandonments.

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I crouched against the wall and watched them injure each other without touching each other, hurling words that had the same effect as acid on metal. Each word diminished them, flattened them against the night until they were puppets, pointing fingers in each other’s faces. Their voices extinguished night sounds, and darkness swallowed everything but these two people I loved, the overhead light a dim spotlight that disfigured their features into grimaces. One by one Delsa, Norma, Héctor, Alicia, Edna, and Raymond came out on the porch, their eyes round as guavas, tears glistening the tips of their lashes. In their passion Mami and Papi had forgotten about us. They were real only to one another. We huddled in a corner, afraid that if we left them, they might eat each other.

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Feb 13
Makayla (Feb 13 2020 10:33AM) : responsible more

the children feel responsible for their parents actions, they feel the need to be present during their arguments so the they can mediate the situation. they have to act like adults to compensate for their parents

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Feb 13
John (Feb 13 2020 10:37AM) : the parents are arguing more

The mother and father are arguing because the father is trying to paint a bad picture on the mother for the fact that the mother wants to send their children to the United States.

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Feb 12
Wendy (Feb 12 2020 2:29PM) : scared more

Esmeralda chose to use the word “crouched” to show how she’s scared. She is also against the wall. Usually when they are in this situation, they feel fear and wants to try to protect themselves.

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Feb 13
Myah (Feb 13 2020 10:24AM) : her parents igorance more

negis father and mother are so busy arguing trying to point the finger at one another that they arent even noticing how bad negis reaction to this news is yestarday in my group we spoak about something that relates to this how sometimes people are so caught up in their own emotions they tend to ignore others

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Feb 13
Dinora (Feb 13 2020 10:45AM) : forgot more

I chose this part of the story because it shows how her parents were so wrapped around each other that they didn’t realize how they were affecting their kids. This happens a lot in many house holds and can affect children when they get older.

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Feb 13
Giselle (Feb 13 2020 10:43AM) : Traumatizing more

She is describing how traumatizing it is for her and her siblings to see their parents fight and how they feel the need to hide from their parents because they’re scared

DMU Timestamp: January 21, 2020 02:52

Added January 29, 2020 at 10:09pm by Kiran Chaudhuri
Title: Photograph from Puerto Rico Mio

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DMU Timestamp: January 21, 2020 02:52

Added January 29, 2020 at 10:40pm by Kiran Chaudhuri
Title: from Puerto Rico Mio, by photographer Jack Delano

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DMU Timestamp: January 21, 2020 02:52

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Feb 4
Makayla (Feb 04 2020 10:07AM) : Her connection to English [Edited] more

There is an obvious barrier between our speaker and the language of the country she will soon move too. She rejects the western culture

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Feb 4
Princesa (Feb 04 2020 10:38AM) : I agree with your statement . she seems resistant to western culture. [Edited]
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