Discuss the language issues in the memoir and how they were
What contradictions in the Puerto Rican culture are symbolized by
the juxtaposition of the Santurce of the Evangelical church with
the botanica? Give examples of the “superstitions” that exist in
the Puerto Rican culture and your culture.
What were the gender issues for females in the Puerto Rican
society? Are these issues for young American females?
How would you define the word dignidad. Is it a code of
manners or morals? Does contemporary American culture have an
equivalent of dignidad?
Mami spanks and hits her children regularly. Does this cause
psychological damage to the children? Does her use of corporal
punishment conflict with her role as caregiver or make her a less
loving mother? Why/Why not?
Why does Mami decide to get a job for the first time? Why does she
dress so differently in order to go to work? What kind of taboo
is Mami breaking? Why do the neighbors react with such hostility?
Why do the women, in particular, resent her?
What do the Puerto Ricans watch on television? What does it mean
for one culture to have so much of its popular entertainment
imported from another culture? Does it strengthen or waken the
native culture? Explain. What might educators do to diminish the
overwhelming impact of a borrowed culture?
Community Questions are
taken from a teacher's guide written by Dr. Brooke Allen and
posted at Random House.
For further information about
When I Was Puerto Rican:
The Reading Group Guide
The Teacher's Guide
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