1. Describe each daughters’ relationship with their father and each other. Give examples.
All of the daughters’ relationships with they father are built and yet strained by their love for each other and food. It is his way of communicating his love to them as opposed to outrightly saying it in typical machismo fashion. Martin and Leticia’s relationship is warm and protective, similar to the others. Just like with her sisters, he wants the best for her and wants to see her live a fulfilling life that is “better” than his.
He’s concerened that she will never get married or even have sex. Carmen enjoys cooking like her father but does not feel that he likes her dishes. Like any daughter, she subconciously seeks his approval especially as their passions are aligned. Carmen dreams of opening her own restaurant and pursuing a profession in the culinary arts similar to her father but he wants a “better” life for his daughter as most parents do but especially immigrant parents.
After Carmen prepares her version of a dish of chicken for her father, he approves of the dish but still is critical on the ingredients which mirrors their relationship. As much as he loves her and they can bond over their love for cooking, he is worried that she has too much sex. At one point she even tells him, “Don’t treat me like a slut just because I’ve had sex in this decade.” Martin and Maribel seem to have a typical father-teenage daughter relationship.
Maribel is in a rebelious stage and will do anything to prove her independence to her father but also attempts to stay in touch with her cultural traditions. Martin is incredibly protective over her and when she brings Andy home for dinner says, “The only white Brazilians I know are Nazi war criminals.”
2. How do you see each sister “fit” into mainstream USA? Give examples.
I think all of the daughters are challeneged to be a part of American Society in their own way and challeneged to define their womanhood within that context. All three of them have different struggles in balancing being a part of American society and while maintaing and living up to their Mexican heritage and traditional values. The traditional view of Latinx women is that they are to be most concerned with their home and husband. The social roles of women have been traditionally associated with maternal functions and contrary characterizations are often viewed as the result of bad relationships, parenting, or a lack of interest/hatred of men. All of Martin’s daughters are unmarried and have pursued or are pursuing professional interests.
Leticia going off to Las Vegas and getting married to Orlando is a huge leap into assimilation. Although I’m sure there are many Mexican women in history that have found the need to elope, it is not a common practice. In a traditional Mexican household, it is typically the parents but especially the father who has the last say in who his daughter will marry. This seemingly rebellious move of hers, displays her level of depth into mainstream America. Although Leticia has struggled in the romance department, it is noteworthy to mention that her being single is suggested as her own choice which goes against her father’s wishes and their cultural traditions. She is also like many Americans suspicious of Catholicism without really knowing much about it. “Catholics worship saints,” she says. “Christians worship Christ. Christ was a Christian not Catholic.” She is not sure what to say in response when she is told,”Honey, Christ was a Jew.” This rejection of a traditional religous structure is another piece of her Mexican heritage that is swept away.
Carmen has many qualities and values of the “modern” American woman. Her belief in the sexual liberation of women is a defining charecteristic of hers. Because of her independence, which I think in small parts can be attributed to her Americanized values, Carmen buys her own condo and makes an announcement that she is offered job in Barcelona, Spain running a company. Although she accepts it, in the end she follows her heart and in the spirit of pursuing “the American dream” decides to return home and start her own restaurant. American society emphasizes indiviual success where as Latinx or Mexican traditions focus more on family and collective idetity. Martin pushing for Carmen to have financial and social security shows that he too hs been influenced by American values.
Maribel struggles between her need for cultural identity and acceptance and being like everybody else. When she announces that she is going to take a couple of gap years before college to find herself, Martin forbids it as long as long as she lives under his roof so she announces she will move in with Andy. The sudden move is not something that is promoted in Latinx househoulds. Most young women do not leave their parents’ home until they are married; preserving patriarchy throughout a monumental life moment. Maribel’s move reflects her Americanized values in that she wants to be independent and make choices that reflect her own interest as opposed to that of her families’.
3. Are their roles consistent with the traditional portrayal of a Latina woman in the USA? Do you think is changing? If so, how?
I do think that their roles are consistent with the traditional portrayal of a Latina woman in the USA. In the article, “Visiting the Mexican American Family: Tortilla Soup as Culinary Tourism,” the author states, “The Latina women were portrayed as being hypersexual and exotic, who, like the “beautified images of food·invite a touristic gaze (Linderfield, 2007, p. 311)… ‘The daughters were light-skinned and looked and acted like middle class Whites, “implying that Latinas who fit into mainstream speaking patterns and behavior codes can become a part of mainstream white culture.” She describes my feelings perfectly. Although they are seen as career driven women, which does demonstrate change in the stereotype, they are still hypersexualized and whitewashed.
Linderfield, L. (September, 2007). “Visiting the Mexican American Family: Tortilla Soup as Culinary Tourism.” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.