The purpose of this essay it to analyze the childhood memories of both Judith Ortiz Cofer and Anwar Accawi past from their stories, the silent dancing and the telephone respectively, who both have complicated early childhood memories. Accawi’s childhood memories are about the changes that were brought by the telephone which led to people moving from the village for opportunities away to make money.
He is remorseful for this telephone technology since before it came, people were happy but in his adulthood, he claims that in his adult life he has not been able to find a “Better Life” than the life in Magadaluna. Accawi’s narrative is created on an adult perspective of regret and humor. He vividly remembers the village destruction as he realizes that the cruelty and idyllic coexist as the human being embodies them.
Silent dancing is a story of Cofer in her elementary school through to her high school as they migrated from America to Puerto Rica and vice versa, it discusses the means through which the culture, gender, class and race shape her life without Cofer sounding naive or dogmatic. Her childhood memories are about the depression and discrimination in America due to their color and one day hoped that she would win some respect for her culture and herself.
She puts it that “If you were to stretch that rubbery face, you could find my father’s face and deep within that face- my own” the differences in their childhood memories is that Cofer’s bitter memories are contributed by their movement from their native land in Puerto Rica to America where they face racial discrimination whereas the Accawi’s bitter childhood memories are caused by introduction of the telephone technology that is brought in to Magdaluna that ends up transforming the life of the natives.
Another difference in both stories is that Accawi is against the changes that occurred due to technology and wishes that they never occurred while Cofer hopes that things will change in America where she and her culture will be recognized. The village of Magdaluna is simple with no new technology. There are no even calendars and people tell about certain times through extraordinary occurrences like earthquakes and birth of certain people.
The children did odd jobs for the adults to earn little money and Accawi was very contented with this way of life. Accawi was happy and assumed that everybody else was happy too without the advantages of the technology. After the coming of the telephone, the way of life of the village of Magdaluna changed since people began to worship the phone. The villagers would gather around the phone waiting for any news and for job opportunities.
As time passed by more people gathered around the telephone and more villagers emigrated from Magdaluna and this irritated some villagers like Accawi. .Judith Ortiz Cofer recounts the experiences of her upbringing in a chain of chronologically arranged vignettes that details her way of life as a little girl shuttled forth and back between her grandma’s casa in Puerto Rican village and the family’s American home at Paterson in New Jersey.
Ortiz Cofer’s father worked in the United States Navy shipyards of Brooklyn Yard, a profession that required him to abandon his family for several months at different time. Worried about the safety of his family and mindful of his companion’s regular longing for the island, he regularly sends his wife (companion) and offspring to their local land located in Puerto Rico regularly. The narrative explains the life of Cofer as she grew against the cultural switch backs.
Her past childhood memories involve the sadness, racial discrimination and depression in America where they lived in El Building which hosted many foreigners but they could not interact but it is the “But the pipes were also a connection to all the other lives being lived around us” and her mother “had been given strict orders by my father to keep the doors locked, the noise down, ourselves to ourselves”.
She remembers a certain moment when her father was referred to as a Cuban but when he said that he was a Puerto Rican the other responded by shouting to Cofer’s father “same shit”. Cofer’s home life anchored her to the Puerto Rico’s past while the US remained her home. The sad childhood memories are passed from generation to generation in what is said to be the “Rubbery face” and Cofer hopes that the misery will end.
At home she was a Spanish while outside home she spoke in English and she was always told that she sounded like a “gringa”. One of the mentors for this lady is her grandmother who is also very strict. Both childhood experiences are greatly contributed by their grandparents. Both stories show the reader how the present culture evolved. Cofer’s stories shows how the American culture is a product of many other cultures while Accawi’s story shows how western civilization changed the farming village at Magdaluna in Lebanese.