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

Study
Home | Author | Teaching | Study | Resource
Study Questions for the "Dreams of a Better Life" Chapter
  1. On page 190 - 191, Esmeralda described a new item in their home in Sabana Grande that can almost be called "American Invasion" again. What was it?

  2. On page 192 - 193, Esmeralda recalled one incident when she accidentally stumbled into her parents's room and found them making love. But she recalled it fondly, in a non-erotic manner. Why did she tell us this secret in her life?

  3. Papi and Mami started a business--a cafetin ambulante, a small truck with compartments and shelves in the back, a refrigerated section, and a hot plate. Can you analyze why their venture failed?

  4. Who were Mariana, Sofia, Armando and Ricardo? How did they influence Esmeralda's developing notion of love, romance and sexuality?

  5. Who was Johannes Velez? How did he influence Esmeralda's developing notion of love, romance and sexuality?

  6. Why did Esmeralda mention gardenia? (p. 198 - 199) How did gardenia influence Esmeralda's developing notion of love, romance and sexuality?

    Gardenia

    Source of Image: http://www.datamarkets.com.ar/floricultores/caf1.htm



  7. "I wanted to dance to this music in my head, but when I took a step, I tumbled into the creek with a wild splash.... I fought the sucking mud and crawled out like some pre-historic creature from an ancient lagoon." Where did this selection come from? Explain the context of the incident.

  8. Who was the man who "came out of the house where 'una genta rica' lived, his eyes shaded by a straw sombrero?" (p. 202 - 204) How did this man influence Esmeralda's developing notion of love, romance and sexuality?

  9. Study the following selection carefully:

    "'Nothing's fair. Life's not fair!' I wailed in a fresh fit of tears. [Mami] sat next to me on the steps and draped her ams around me. Her body jiggled, and when I looked up, tears streamed down her cheeks, but her mouth was curled into a smile that she was trying to conceal.... We sat on the steps holding each other, laughing and crying at nothing." (p. 205)

    What were they laughing and crying over?

  10. On p. 206 - 208, Esmeralda witnessed her parents' fierce fight--"I ... watched them injure each and other without touching each other." (p. 207) How did she feel about their conflict?

Return to Table of Contents


LaGuardia Community College/City University of New York
31-10 Thomson Ave./Long Island City, NY 11101
Site Developed by:
Arthur C. Lau (alau@lagcc.cuny.edu) and J. Elizabeth Clark (lclark@lagcc.cuny.edu).
Technical Consultant: Abigail Schoneboom (Center for Teaching and Learning)