Analyzing Legal Alien Essay
Essay Topic: Literature
Paper type: Essay
Words: 1496, Paragraphs: 15, Pages: 6
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For many years now people have judged one another based on characteristics and family background. Some judge based on skin color, race, where your family has come from, and how you came about. “Legal Alien/ Extranjera Legal” by Pat Mora gives a very realistic message of how it can feel to be a mexican american and to be seen as a ‘legal alien’. To feel not wanted by either side, and to be judged based on the origins of your ancestors and your race.
“viewed by Anglos as perhaps exotic,/ perhaps inferior, definitely different,/ viewed by mexicans as alien.
This here, is a perfect example of the way Mora feels about being judged and seen as an alien and her interesting use of diction, metaphors and similes. I think the tone Mora has is one of somebody who feels like an outsider, due to being judge by the people who surround her daily. Moras choice of diction in the first four lines is very interesting and has continued to interest me throughout the poem.
Diction is a writer or speakers choice of words. Mora’s diction lets you know a lot about the poems meaning and also about the speaker or the character right away.
Mora chooses to tell it back and forth, from one side to another, but mainly from two different points of view. Being seen as an american and also being seen as a mexican. I believe Mora is telling this poem in her own point of view, as if she is the character. Mora starts by off saying “bi-lingual, bi-cultural” line one. That alone can be interpreted as the speaker or the character is able to speak and understand two languages. It also means she can participate in both of their cultures as well. Mora follows the first line up by enforcing her meaning with “ able to slip from ‘how’s life? to ‘ me’stan volviendo loca. ”( this means they’re driving me crazy in spanish. )
Lines two and three. Moras choice of diction here is interesting because she makes it sound like she lives two completely separate lifes as if they could not be mixed together. Mora writes “able to sit in a paneled office/ drafting memos in smooth english/ able to order in fluent spanish/ at a mexican restaurant” Lines five through seven, really show how she lives both sides and experiences them both separately from one another. It also shows that she fits in and seems as if she really isn’t different from any of the others.
In lines eight through ten Mora uses more of her interesting diction. “american but hyphenated/ viewed by Anglos as perhaps exotic,/ perhaps inferior, definitely different. ” ‘American but hyphenated’ highlights the point that although she is part american, she is still different because she is not a full american. There is more than that though, and thats exactly why she is seen differently from both sides. Either way she is more than that so she is seen different and that is Moras overall message. “viewed by Anglos as perhaps exotic,/ perhaps inferior, definitely different. ” supports that she is viewed as an outsider from both sides.
Mora also uses inferior. Which has a strong meaning to it. Inferior means: lower in rank, status, or quality. Mora uses the word exotic which also sends a very clear message of how she is viewed. Exotic means to originate in or characteristic of a distant foreign country, so her choice of words completely supports her overall message of what it can feel like to be judged based on the origins of your ancestors and your race. Mora even uses a very simple but clear simile. “viewed by mexicans as an alien. ” She states that the mexicans, the other half of her ancestors race, also see her as an alien, as an outsider.
Different from them because she has american blood to even though the rest of her blood is made up of that of the same as theirs. She still is not the same in there eyes. They refer to her as an alien because they believe that. “(their eyes say, ‘you may speak/ spanish but you’re not like me’)” lines twelve and thirteen, support the fact that all though she is similar, she is not seen like them. Moras choice of diction is interesting here because she is writing what she knows they want to say but won’t always will but also what some do imply using different words. There eyes make her feel different like an outcast not wanted by anybody.
The way they find hers and judge her so quickly, so harshly. Mora again supports that she is viewed as an outsider, a ‘legal alien’ by following that up with lines fourteenth and fifteenth. “an american to mexicans/ A mexican to americans. ” These two lines have a strong meaning, and also supports the way she feels, nobody wanted her. She did not belong to either because they judged her based on the other half of her race. the other half of who she is. When in all reality race should not matter, should not affect one’s judgement. Somebodys race makes them no better nor no worse than the next person.
Moras next two lines sixteen and seventeen, have a strong meaning and the use of a metaphor. “a handy token/ sliding back and forth. ” She is referring to herself or her character as a ‘hand token’, which I would assume is a metaphor that symbolizes that she slides back and forth between what feels like two completely different worlds just trying to fit in. To be seen for who she truly is. “between the fringes of both worlds. ” Mora now very matter of factly states that to her or her character those lives are two different worlds completely. It also supports that she does not mix them together very much.
In the next line Mora chooses to show an emotion in a way. I believe Mora chooses to wait so long before putting a real emotion into her character so you and I, as the readers could really understand what it is like to be mexican american and judged constantly and in general. “by smiling” line nineteen. Mora follows up the short but to the point line nineteen, with using very strong diction. “by masking the discomfort” (line twenty) is a strong phrase alone and already says a lot. ‘Masking discomfort’ means that the speaker or character masks how discomfortable being judged can be.
How hard it can be to cope with and that says the speaker or the character is very strong, to hide something like that simply by smiling when it has most likely gone on for years. But also a devastating effect. “of being pre-judged/ bi-laterally. ” line twenty. Mora ends her poem with one, very strong meaningful word. Bi-laterally means by both sides. Mora is saying ‘being pre-judged by both sides’. Both races that make her up as a whole, pre-judging her before they got the chance to know her. People judge one another all the time based off their clothes, and much much more.
But to judge somebody due to their race or heritage, things they have no control over, thats not right. Its one thing to judge based on how they project themselves but it is not right to judge based on something out of their control either. I think that Moras choice of diction, metaphors, and similes really support her feelings of being judged and seen as a ‘legal alien’. “Legal Alien’/Extranjera Legal” gives a very realistic and strong message of how it can feel to be viewed as an alien by the people that surround you and are in your life like the people you work with.
Mora’s character knows how it feels to be not wanted nor accepted by either side, and to be judged on the origins of her ancestors and her race. Mora uses strong diction throughout this poem with her interesting choice of how she uses her words. “perhaps exotic, perhaps inferior, definitely different,” Her choice of diction has a strong effect on the message itself. Moras use of similes is interesting to because she says “viewed by mexicans as alien”, she very clearly says they compare her to an alien and that as a very great impact to.
Mora also uses metaphors in her writing in an interesting way, she refers to herself as ‘a handy token/ sliding back and forth’, to symbolize how it feels to not be accepted and to be judged. Many people could relate to this poem whether they are judged on their race, on their upbringing, on their clothes, and many more factors. Being pre-judged is a major problem in society today and is all around us constantly. Some are not lucky enough to escape it, but are capable of understanding the bigger picture in the message behind this poem.