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Miranda Complex in Julia Alvarez’s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Essay

The article of Jennifer Bess who is an assistant professor of Peace Studies at Coucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, starts with a quotation from Alice Walker’ s book The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart: A diary like this, with so many blank pages, seems to reflect a life permeated with gaps, an existence full of holes. But perhaps that is what happens when one’s experience is so intensely different from anything dreamed of as a child that there seems literally to be no words for it.

This quotation is a kind of foreshadowing of what Bess puts forward in her article. The article starts with the background of the Miranda complex which is stated in the article’s title. It is mentioned that there is a girl named Miranda in Shakespeare’s play The Tempest. She has all the privileges of her father’s administration over an island; however she states that “ I have suffered/ with there that I saw suffer! “ because of his father’s authoritarianism.

From the gender point of view, she carries the burden of oppression and powerlessness of Caribbean people and also the burden of oppression “the benefits and protection offered by colonizing father and husband. ” She is a victim and an inheritor of the forces of colonialism at the same time. According to the article, Julia Alvarez studies this complex inheritance in her autobiographically based novel How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. Alvarez’s characters tell many truths about their history and shared identity through Garcia girls.

At the beginning of the novel, Alvarez goes back to the history of Garcia family to the time of Miranda . There were conquerors “encircling her own wrists” and she passes on these conquistadors to the Garcia sisters in the novel. The novel then emphasizes the themes of loss and violation; on the one hand there is a comfort and strength when the Garcia girls experience the female alliance and the richness of their shared Dominican experience; on the other hand however, they feel the pain of oppression.

Because the privileged women of color tell only some parts of the story, her novel involves the mixed voices of silent people and the history’s loses along with Garcia family’s role in violence and victimization. According to the article, Alvarez’s characters come across wit the absence of memories so she must dig into the collective memory in order to uncover what remains of “common experience broken in time. Just like Miranda, the character Yolanda sympathizes with the others who suffer, however; she cannot identify herself with them completely because of her privilege, just as she cannot identify completely with Americans and even with her own extended family on the island. Her identity is fractured, unlike Miranda who depends on her father to fill in the gaps of her past, Yolanda takes the responsibility and writes her own past; in short she “recaptures the self” through her self creation.

Alvarez’s characters cannot recover the loses of the past but with the exploration of Miranda’s complex, they transform “mandate of silence” into a revolution of truth telling and self-invention. For the Bess, the novel’s missing words and missing stories forms its theme; however the theme is not only one of loss ; it is also one in which Miranda faces the price of her family’s privilege. In other words, Alvarez uses absences and silence to expose the complexity of her characters’ inheritance, an inheritance shared by all “who have been shaped by the legacies of western expansion. Bess uses a quotation from Almanac of the Dead referring the alienation that the Garcia girls experienced; In Almanac of the Dead, Leslie Marmon Silko explains through a storyteller that the theory of the Big Bang was “consistent with everything else that he had seen: from their flimsy attachments to one another and their children to their abandonment of the land where they had been born,” westerners and those who have inherited their culture all share the same fate of alienation as do Adam and Eve, “wandering aimlessly because the insane God who had sired them had abandoned” and expelled them (1991, 258).

She continues with another quotation stating that Silko calls the European as the orphaned children and thinks that the girls suffer after their exile: As Silko continues, “the Europeans had not been able to sleep soundly on the American continents, not even with a full military guard. They,” Like their heirs in Carlos and Yolanda, “suffered from nightmares and frequently claimed to see devils and ghosts” Their past, divided by the “river of bodies” left by the Haitian massacre and by the massacre of the natives hundreds of years before, will forever keep the Garcias orphaned spiritually.

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