Under the Feet of Jesus

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Under the Feet of Jesus as Bildungsroman

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Bildungsroman literary genre convention dwells on the growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood morally and psychologically. Works that have employed the literary genre can also be referred to as coming of age genres. The novel by Viramontes entitled Under the Feet of Jesus gives an account of the plight of a family that lives as migrants. It has aspects that indicate similarities with the theories of the Bildungsroman. The essay evaluates how and to what extent the events of the novel fit the genre conventions in the Bildungsroman. Furthermore, the essay will delve into the justification behind the choice to use or not to use the genre conventions to enhance the theme of struggle as Estrella and her family experience hardships, focusing on migration and adolescence which characterize the life of the protagonist Estrella and her family.

Estrella and her family are traveling on the road heading to another destination. The illustration above paints the picture of a struggling family. The seven members are squeezed into a car described by the author as old. They bear the tough conditions as they move from one place to another, in agreement with the Bildungsroman genre convention that describes a problematic start that has a desired end (Barkley 16). The journey is just the start of struggles that face the characters as they develop in the buildup of the plot.

During the journey, Estrella is curious to know their destination. Despite the tough conditions in the old car, she raises her head trying to see their destination (Viramontes 59). The interest she shows make her exceptional in the crowded vehicle setting her apart from the rest pitting her as the protagonist according to the theory of Bildungsroman. The theory of the Bildungsroman stipulates that the protagonist stands out from the rest and puts herself or himself in a position to address a common problem (Lukacs 132). The individuals in the car are faced by a similar problem but the curiosity of Estrella shows her interest to know where they are going, unlike her siblings who also do not know their destination but manage to ignore it.

On arrival to their destination, Petra and her Husband Perfecto start inspecting the Cabin. Petra is Estrella’s mother while Perfecto is Petra’s boyfriend. Perfecto finds a dead bird and a scorpion in the Cabin and chooses to hide the dead bird from Petra (Viramontes 67). This reveals Perfecto’s nature, he prefers to be silent to avoid causing a problem. Perfecto is similar to the majority as expressed in the Bildungsroman who would prefer getting used to a problem rather than face the risks associated with trying to solve the problem (Lukacs 132).

Petra, on the other hand, warns her children immediately not to walk barefoot because of the presence of scorpions (Viramontes 68). Petra knows through her struggle that scorpions are dangerous and walking barefoot isn’t advisory in such an environment. In the Bildungsroman, personalities who have learned a phenomenon through experience are resourceful and act as a light to the rest who end up believing in a certain way of life as illustrated by the learned individual (Lukacs 133). Petra uses her knowledge to help the children during their struggle as migrants.

As the narrative develops we encounter Alejo and his cousin Gumecindo who are migrants. They have adapted to the hard life imminent to Petra and her family. Alejo and Gumecindo are illustrated stealing fruits hastily being cautious of the owner (Viramontes 96). This depicts a harsh environment from where the protagonist is supposed to rise from as defined by the Bildungsroman standard. According to the theory of the Bildungsroman, a protagonist will only rise in the midst of hardships (Buckley 17). Alejo and his cousin have been used to paint a picture of the hardships that await the protagonist.

Life for Petra, her daughter Estrella and the rest of the family has been difficult since. Initially, Petra was married to Estrella’s real father. Estrella’s father left them alone and never came back. Estrella’s mother was distraught but remembered how hard her father toiled and how her daughter Estrella tries her best to Keep the Boys happy (Viramontes 109). Petra’s interior change was affected by external social factors, he thought of her father and daughter and decided to fight. The theories of the Bildungsroman express that the theme a story is further developed through interior change experienced as a consequence of facing reality. (Buckley 17) This shows similarity with Petra’s decision to change her cause of action.

After Estrella’s father left Estrella had to learn to live without her father. The struggle to overcome the trauma of being walked out on by her biological father defines her character throughout the narrative. In the Bildungsroman, the struggle is overcome and the protagonist rises (Lukacs 134). For Estrella, the author chooses that the character will not overcome the predicament but uses it instead to facilitate the rise of the protagonist. At some point, later in their new destination, Estrella refutes instructions from Perfecto claiming that he is not her biological father. We also see Estrella gaining strength through Education. He was pushed to pursue education by the toolbox her father left (Viramontes 206). The author goes contrary to the theories of the Bildungsroman to depict the influence of Estrella’s Biological father on her life.

After the departure of Estrella’s father, the family was forced to work in Tomato plantations. In one of the tomato farms, Estrella met Maxine, a character who has been described as stubborn. Estrella and Maxine are age mates and they at first get along well. However, Estrella becomes upset when Maxine tells her that her mother is having sex with Perfecto (Viramontes 207). Estrella’s reaction shows that she has grown and understands the implication of what Maxine is saying. She starts a tussle with Maxine over the issue forcing the foreman to fire their family. The genre conventions in the theory of Bildungsroman express that growth is influenced by social life (Barkley 18). In the narrative, Estrella’s growth into the age of adolescence has been influenced by her hard life as the scene with Maxine reflects.

Furthermore, as Estrella washes a watermelon it accidentally falls into the river, this forces Estrella to undress and swim towards the watermelon (Viramontes 112). The author describes Estrella’s appearance at that moment vividly using expressions that imply beauty. Alejo looks on from a distance dazed by Estrella’s beauty. This builds on the theme of love amidst the struggle. In the Bildungsroman framework, the protagonist goes through intimate relationships that build or destroy them (Buckley 18). The attraction of Alejo towards Estrella indicates that they are adolescents and farther conforms to the Bildungsroman.

As they live their migrant lives, Petra’s family has deeply sought desires. The life of a migrant is tough to the family including Estrella who is going through the problems associated with being a migrant and an adolescent. Estrella beliefs that education is her salvation and tries to change the situation her and her family are going through by enlightening herself. However, most of the family members are trying to cope with their problems by adapting to them. The plot of the novel employs the conventions of the Bildungsroman where the hero decides to address a common problem after experiencing life through a difficult perspective. The conventions of the genre help bring out the theme of struggle depicted through the experiences of a migrant family and the life an adolescent in the novel.

Works Cited

  1. Buckley, Jerome Hamilton. Season of youth: The Bildungsroman from Dickens to Golding. Harvard Univ Pr, 1974.
  2. Lukács, Georg. ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Years of Apprenticeship as an Attempted Synthesis. Theory of the Novel: 132-42.
  3. Viramontes, Helena María. Under the feet of Jesus. Penguin, 1995.
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189

Pandora’s Box in Under the Feet of Jesus

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

Pandoa’s Box was said to contain all the evils in the world, upon opening spreading sins around the Earth. In the excerpt from Viramontes’s Under the Feet of Jesus, the toolbox is similar to Pandora ’s Box as it contains Estrella’s future knowledge. Although the toolbox is a reoccurring theme throughout the passage, it is not the only thing that develops Estrella’s character. While developing the complexity of the piece that Estrella once hated the thing that brought her knowledge, Viramontes also creates the protagonist through selection of detail and tone, producing at least three main traits of Estrella: she was questioning and unintelligent until opening the toolbox, her mother tried but she did not have good hygiene, and her real educator was Perfecto Flores with the toolbox.

An author can use selection of detail to impose a negative or positive image of a character or setting upon the reader by withholding or adding information. In this piece, Viramontes utilizes selection of detail to create a visual image of the character both in her mental and physical aspect. First of all, Viramontes uses selection of detail to put forth the details that make Estrella seem dirty first and clueless first. Starting with line four the author tells the reader she is not very bright, stating “She had opened the tool chest and all that jumbled steel inside the box, the iron bars and things with handles, the funny-shaped objects, seemed as confusing and foreign as the alphabet she could not decipher.” (4-8) This states that, first off, Estrella does not yet know what the tools are and therefore what they do, also stating that she cannot read. Then, the passage shifts to school, where Estrella would “point to the diagonal lines written in chalk on the blackboard with a dirty fingernail.” (15-17) Using selection of detail, the author mixes Estrella’s lack of knowledge with a hit about her physical appearance, then leading on to a discussion of her braids (36) and lack of hygiene though her mom tried. (36-37) Selection of detail also brings forth some complexity in the piece. The tool box was hated by Estrella and Viramontes selected to portray this hatred as being “silent with rage” (10) yet immediately follow it with references to tools in comparison to letters, revealing that she hates the toolbox, yet it gives her knowledge.

Also used was tone to show how the classroom teacher was not the real educator and develop Estrella’s character as who she learns from. When discussing Estrella’s teachers, the narrator uses a somewhat upset tone that they “were more concerned about the dirt under her fingernails” (19-20) than the knowledge she was trying to acquire. This tone can be seen as the narrator discusses how they “inspected her head for lice” (21) not because they were concerned about her health, but how her health would affect them and the other children. However, when talking about Perfecto, the narrator adapts a more adoring tone, one that might be used when speaking about a father. The narrator shows that he cares for her when saying “your manitas aren’t strong yet” (58), suggesting that he has taken time to know her and what she has difficulty with and that he cares for her. Because he adapts this calm and caring tone, Estrella finds it essential to learn how to read rather than after her careless teachers scrub her head because she does not like them. Also, this shift in tone develops the complexity of the tool chest being hated and loved by Estrella. The piece is started off with a hateful tone towards it because it “kept [things] from her” (12) but in the 5th and 6th paragraphs the narrator seems to adore it because of the knowledge it has.

In this passage both tone and selection of detail are literary elements used by Viramontes to develop the character of Estrella and the complexity of the tool chest as a hated and loved object.

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109

Motherhood, the Value of Labor, Marginalization, and Race in Under the Feet of Jesus

April 13, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Under the Feet of Jesus” shows the history of a Latino family’s struggle to flee poverty and to seek a secure life. Above all, the novel focuses on the challenges of family relationships among the awful operating conditions that exist for migrant employees. The story portrays many ideas throughout the book such as motherhood, the value of labor, marginalization, and race. These topics can be processed as themes of the novel overall, but they all play a contribution in the character of Estrella. The most centralized idea throughout the narrative is the idea of race and marginalization. An example of this is when Estrella visited the clinic. She had interactions with somebody outside of her own socio economic standing. With the scene of the nurse, the nurses look and behavior can trigger her of her own poverty and therefore shows the gulf between her and the conservative society the girl represents. This scene shows the difference between Estrella and the nurses social life in terms of the privileges Estrella doesn’t have. In addition to privilege, in Estrella’s family, it contributes to a bigger problem for them as a whole because of their race in such a conservative location.

Estrella relies deeply on the crowbar. For example, she uses the tool as a dominance of power. In one of the scenes while Estrella was at the hospital, she walks out of the clinic towards the car, where Rocky and Arnulfo are playing. She then proceeds to open the trunk and grab the crowbar. She went back inside and demanded to take back the money. She then threatens the nurse that she’ll “…smash these windows first, then all these glass jars if you don’t give us back our money” (Viramontes, 149). Once the nurse tries to protest, she sets the crowbar down, breaking the picture frame of the nurses kids. The nurse begins to cry and Estrella holds her hand out, waiting until she hands her the money. This scene shows the significance of the tool such as in one in all her early flashbacks, Estrella holds Perfecto’s crowbar and explains the “significance it awarded her”. Some time past, she thought the tools were a path to a meaningful existence within the American society. She then realized how the crowbar provided her with power, but its a certain power that builds a picture of a criminal in the eyes of society and cements her marginalization. This connection has a similarity to Audre Lorde’s poem “Who Said It Was Simple”, in terms of white privileged women. Their voices are easily heard and their rights are more effective in use compared to women of color and of their citizen status. In this case, Estrella is categorized as a woman of color and the majority of her family are not citizens of the U.S. Another conflict that occured with the nurse and Estrella was when Alejo asked if she hurt the nurse in any way. At this point, Alejo knew about the situation but didn’t know the full details because he wasn’t present during the crowbar situation. Near the clinic, Perfecto buys 5 dollars of gas. Estrella peers outside the window where she sees a valley full of grapes and harvesters. Alejo proceeded to ask Estrella if she hurt the nurse. Estrella then says “they make you that way…” by refusing to concentrate until “you pick up a crowbar” (Viramontes, 151). She then gets mad and thinks that Alejo is being impractical. He then tells her to not “make it so easy for them”. With this portion of the scene, Estrella’s remak implicitly argues that criminal behavior is usually caused by desperation, outstanding character. Alejo’s encouragement to not “make it easy for them” expresses his continuous hope to succeed within American society, but Estrella is currently convinced that she will solely move with that society as a helpless migrant or a forbidding figure with a crowbar. The tool is a symbolism for communication and power.

The value of labor also plays in a contribution in the race and marginalization. A moment during part four that shows this was when Estrella thought back to the tar pits. It looks that her family’s bones produce the oil within the pits, the oil that creates the nurse’s car to run and permits her to pick up her children. Within Estrella’s mind, she emphasizes how because of this statement, the nurse owes them more than they owe her. With this scene, the nurse sees Estrella and her family as those that depend upon her for charity. However, in the company by her deep information of her own labor, Estrella rethinks the situation to indicate that it’s actually the center category that’s deeply indebted to the migrants on whom it depends. She starts to realize how she’s not the only one impacted by this, but instead it’s quite a common action with other migrants. Another position that signifies on the value of labor and race and marginalization is when Perfecto heads to the hospital. He exits the main road and follow the signs of the hospital. Once he pulls into the parking zone, Perfecto keeps the car running and as a result of that, he’s distressed that the battery can die. He instructs Estrella to take a hold of Alejo inside and leave him; the nurses could take care of it from there. Estrella thanks him and hauls Alejo out of the car. Watching them leave, Perfecto reflects that though he’s “given this country his all”, nobody has ever thanked him as sincerely as the young girl did. Like Estrella, Perfecto has despaired of finding a meaningful place to locate society, that essentially ignore his contributions. The sole ease of his oppression are the non-public connections he forms with people who share his troubles, even as one in every of Estrella’s few comforts in her seperation.

Estrella also shows a sense of motherhood towards Alejo when he was taken to the hospital. At the hospital, the nurse concludes that Alejo has an infectious disease. However, she has no way to check her theory of why he’s ill. To check, he must attend the hospital in Corazon before he becomes too dehydrated. Petra and Perfecto are annoyed once Estrella translates his judgment, saying that it’s not their responsibility to take him to the hospital. Estrella reminds her mother that Gumecindo has gone back to Texas; there’s nobody except them to take him. Petra points out that Alejo doesn;t have papers with him, or cash to get medical aid. The twins question if Alejo is going to die, and Petra sends them outside. With this statement, the nurse is unable to supply relevant care and is clearly incurious with Alejo’s difficulty. It’s showing that even once the family manages to urge to the clinic, they don’t get pleasure from the quality of care accorded to a lot of privileged patients. McIntosh mentions how “white privilege is like an invisible weightless backpack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas,…” (McIntosh, 3). This has a connection with Estrella and her family in general because they lack some of these attributes because they’re not citizens. It’ s difficult for Estrella to roll through her everyday life because of not being of the same properties as a white woman. Estrella’s loyal obtaining of the new responsibility of taking Alejo to the hospital shows that she’s growing into her mother’s shoes. With the idea of race and marginalization, she couldn’t help but to care for her friend like a mother because of the mistreatment they have received at the clinic.

The novel “Under the Feet of Jesus” captures many ideas of mistreatment towards Estrella and her family because of their race, class and poverty. She’s a young woman who is a citizens in the States. Her and her family are migrant laborers, continuously moving to follow harvest season. Estrella, soon enough, has become the pacemaker among her family. With more of a privilege compared to her parents, she’s able to use her power to fight for what she stands for in terms of her rights and for her family. Even when she faces fears and dificulties such as facing discrimination and being in poverty, she uses her power to resolve it for the sake of her and for the protection of her family.

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Analysis Of Literary Devices In Under The Feet Of Jesus By Helena Maria Viramontes

November 2, 2020 by Essay Writer

In Viramontes novel, “Under the Feet of Jesus”, Estrella’s, or the main character’s, nature of resilience comes as result of her prior life experiences and the trials and tribulations she has endured over her lifetime. Viramontes reveals this through the use of selective details, figurative language, and tone.

In the beginning of the passage, a question is posed to the reader by Viramontes. The question is “So what is this?” This question is significant because it signifies how thirsty Estrella is for knowledge and not much she wants to discover. The scene begins with Estrella looking through Perfecto’s tool box. She is trying to figure out what all the tools are and what they all do. She describes them as “foreign” and “funny-shaped.” The tone is immediately set as confusion. It becomes increasingly clear that Estrella is frustrated by her own lack of knowledge and this confusion turns into anger. Her lack of knowledge overwhelms her and therefore she is unable to control her emotions.

The selective details that the author adds to the work also further Estrella’s appearance to the reader of being resilient. The narrator adds and additional story that happened earlier in Estrella’s life. This story is to give us insight into her character and why she is so easily frustrated and confused. The verb that is being used in this is “hate” that gives the story the impression that it is a strong, passionate situation. This tone is the tone that will follow the story for the remainder of the time. Estrella honestly states that one of her teacher “never gave her the information that she wanted.” As a result of this, Estrella is left to be ignorant to certain things, to no fault of her own. This is also the reason she is so curious.

Figurative language also gives characters a look to her resilient nature. An example of this is her calling her teachers “crumpled kleenex”, this shows her blunt personality, she is willing to say what needs to be said. When Perfecto enters Estrella’s life she begins to develop further. For example, she beings asking questions about his tools, this may be a seemingly insignificant detail but it shows Estrella’s thirst for knowledge. This thirst is helped to be kept alive by Perfecto.

Selective details also establish a firm foundation that is needed to realize the context of Estrella’s life. Figurative language is able to provide the emotional background we need, and want, for the story. The selective details are structured so that we are able to learn just enough about Estrella’s life but not know too much.

Finally, the tone and dialogue in the passage are vital tools that we need to fully understand the story. This helps the author have the character perceived as they were intended to be perceived. She is a strong and resilient woman and that is made very clear throughout the passage.

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441

Adversity Shapes Morale in Under the Feet of Jesus

June 7, 2019 by Essay Writer

In the novel Under the Feet of Jesus, author Helena María Viramontes introduces the protagonist Estrella as a poor and uneducated girl. Estrella is a migrant, and therefore her teachers do not treat her well. Her inability to speak or write English deprives her of the necessary skills to make due in society. In the excerpt, society is a place where the values of morality, such as benevolence, are ignored by the majority and practiced by the few. Additionally, Viramontes contrasts positions of power throughout the excerpt to represent the ability to affect others through actions and words. Due to the fact that the excerpt takes place during the 20th century in the United States, tension between migrants and whites is high. The third-person omniscient point-of-view that Viramontes employs allows the reader to understand the sentiments of multiple characters, thus creating a more personal connection to the excerpt. Viramontes reveals Estrella as a girl with an ardent passion to learn, but who is initially frustrated with the lack of information she receives from her teachers. With the help of a handyman named Perfecto Flores; however, Estrella is able to convert her negative emotions towards the lack of education she receives into positive energy. Perfecto’s faith in Estrella’s ability transforms Estrella into a student who meets social academic standards despite her initial frustration. Perfecto gives Estrella the necessary tools—both literal and symbolic—to help her overcome the challenge of adapting to society. In a sense, Perfecto creates a new world for Estrella. In this world, Estrella is free to entertain her curiosity in any way that she wishes without having to worry about the negative influence of others. Through the character of Estrella, Viramontes shows that adversity—commonly a negative obstacle—can be seen as the impetus behind people achieving their goals. Viramontes opens the excerpt with an interrogative to characterize Estrella’s uncertainty: “So what is this?” (Viramontes line 1). Viramontes refers to Perfecto’s red tool chest at the beginning of the excerpt to inform the reader of Estrella’s confusion. When Estrella comes across the tool chest she does not know what to make of it. To her, the contents of the tool chest represent foreign objects; she feels as if she will never know the meaning behind these objects. Viramontes also uses the interrogative to foreshadow the tone. Estrella will be hesitant in her thoughts and actions throughout the excerpt. In addition, Viramontes goes on to say that “[…] [Estrella] became very angry [after coming upon Perfecto’s tool chest]” (lines 3 and 4). Here, Viramontes establishes Estrella’s character. Estrella is the type of girl who succumbs to adversity rather than overcome it. She is angered by her inability to understand the contents of the tool chest. Although Estrella is eager to learn, her negative attitude toward overcoming hardship shows that she lacks maturity. To further emphasize Estrella’s negative attitude, Viramontes also describes Estrella as easily frustrated: “Estrella hated when things were kept from her. The teachers in the schools did the same, never giving her the information she wanted” (line 13-15). In this instance, Viramontes specifically describes Estrella’s hunger for knowledge. Estrella is incensed when her teachers do not give her the information she wants. Instead, they are more concerned about her hygiene rather than her education. This prevalent thought amongst her teachers annoys Estrella. Estrella’s teacher, Mrs. Horn, epitomizes this idea of hygiene before education. “Mrs. Horn […] asked how come her mama never gave her a bath” (lines 32-35). Estrella realizes the power of words after Mrs. Horn asks Estrella why her mother never bathes her. It takes a rude comment such as Mrs. Horn’s to make Estrella recognize that words have power. Mrs. Horn’s comments hurt Estrella psychologically in that they make her self-conscious of her appearance, but they also make Estrella understand that if said with enough spite, words have the power to inflict the deepest pain. Mrs. Horn’s harsh words cause Estrella to come to a realization, and a direct result of that realization is that Estrella becomes even more determined to learn. Additionally, Viramontes uses similes and metaphors throughout the excerpt to further accentuate Estrella’s lack of knowledge: “The curves of the tools made no sense and the shapes were as foreign and meaningless to her as chalky lines on the blackboard” (lines 43-45). Although Estrella has an immense hunger to learn, she has trouble understanding the symbols on the blackboard. Viramontes uses a simile to describe Estrella’s inability to grasp the meaning behind the figures in order to further convey her message. She implies that although it may seem like Estrella’s struggles are slowing her down, in reality they are actually inadvertently making Estrella reach her goal of being educated by forcing her to adapt to society. As the excerpt progresses, Estrella learns to channel her displeasure in a more positive manner with the help of Perfecto Flores. Perfecto does what Estrella’s teachers do not: give her the opportunity to learn. “He opened up the tool chest, as if bartering for her voice, lifted a chisel and hammer; aquí, pegarle aquí […]” (lines 53-54). Perfecto opening the tool chest for Estrella can be interpreted in two different ways. First, it can be interpreted literally, as Perfecto shows Estrella the physical contents of the tool chest. Second, and more importantly, it can be perceived as metaphoric. By opening the tool chest, Perfecto opens the door to an unknown world for Estrella—a world full of knowledge. Estrella has never entered the world of knowledge, but with the helping hand of Perfecto, she is able to enter this world and learn beyond measure. Perfecto nurtures Estrella’s curiosity by giving her the necessary tools to satisfy her inquisitive mind. Unlike Estrella’s teachers at school, Perfecto cares enough about Estrella to take the time to teach her. Moreover, it is also important to note that Perfecto transitions from speaking English to Spanish with Estrella when he says “aquí, pegarle aquí” (here, hit here). This change in language during one of the most critical parts of the excerpt indicates that Perfecto actually cares about Estrella and her education. By speaking Spanish to Estrella Perfecto sympathizes with Estrella’s struggles and shows that he is willing to help her overcome them. It is also important to note that the excerpt changes point-of-view from third-person to second-person when Perfecto teaches Estrella how to open the tool chest: “If that doesn’t work, because your manitas aren’t strong yet, fasten the vise pliers, these, then twist the pliers with your hammer” (lines 60-62). The change in point-of-view signifies the extent to which Perfecto cares about Estrella. As Viramontes did when switching the language from English to Spanish, changing the point-of-view from third to second-person reveals Perfecto as a man who truly cares about Estrella and her education. He wants more than anything for Estrella to learn and to be successful. In addition to teaching Estrella how to open the tool chest and showing her the contents of the tool chest, Perfecto also takes time to explain the significance of each tool: “Perfecto Flores taught her the names that went with the tools: a claw hammer, he said with authority, miming its function; screwdrivers, see, holding up various heads and pointing to them […] names that gave meaning to the tools” (lines 63-70). When showing Estrella the contents of the tool chest, Perfecto takes time to indicate the importance of each tool. Perfecto teaches Estrella—something that her teachers refuse to do. Perfecto’s actions suggest that he values education much more than Estrella’s teachers. By taking the time to teach Estrella, Perfecto refocuses Estrella’s anger and turns it into a newfound desire to learn. Now more than ever, Estrella develops an endless hunger for knowledge. In concluding her excerpt, Viramontes thereby leaves the reader with a sense of how much Estrella’s character develops. She is no longer stubborn and naïve, rather a girl who has matured to the fullest degree. Viramontes concludes: “She lifted the pry bar in her hand […] weighed the significance it awarded her, and soon she came to understand how essential it was to know these things. That was when she began to read” (lines 71-76). The fact that Viramontes ends her excerpt on an optimistic note suggests that Estrella is ultimately successful in overcoming adversity. Through the help of Perfecto and his tools, Estrella is able to adjust to the standards of society by learning how to read. When contrasted, the first paragraph and last paragraph of the excerpt represent two different ideas, yet these ideas are of vital importance to the development of the excerpt. The first paragraph reveals Estrella’s uncertainty and frustration; the last exposes Estrella in a more positive light. Viramontes brings Estrella’s character into full circle. Estrella has undergone the most dramatic of character transformations. Viramontes uses Estrella’s situation to depict that a negative emotion such as anger or frustration can actually be used as motivation to achieve one’s goals. Estrella’s transformation from a spiteful girl to a mature child with a hunger to learn signifies the extent to which the obstacles Estrella faces have helped her. At first, Estrella must deal with the challenge of overcoming a language barrier that impedes her ability to clearly articulate her emotions. As a result, Estrella is consistently frustrated with her inability to adapt to society. Yet, through the guidance of Perfecto Flores and a newfound ambition to learn, Estrella is able to change her outlook and conform to society by learning how to read. Perfecto’s patience and dedication towards Estrella’s education contributes greatly to Estrella’s success. With the help of Perfecto, Estrella turns her frustration into motivation. Through her excerpt, Viramontes suggests that although adversity is commonly seen as a hurdle in overcoming obstacles, in some cases, such as Estrella’s, it can actually be seen as positive, inspiring people to achieve the impossible.

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