Queens 1963 Julia Alvarez Poem Analysis Essays

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican-American writer. She was born on March 27, 1950. Now, she writes about how she learned English. She emphasizes her struggles with English. Julia was born in New York but her parents returned to the Dominican Republic when Alvarez was three months old. When Alvarez was ten, her parents came back to America. Julia became fluent in two languages. Her first language is Spanish and she felt a responsibility to keep it. This became her struggle. She had to learn English at her American school. 

She thought of English as a harder version of Spanish. When Julia and her sisters were kids, her parents would use English to talk about things they did not want the children to know. Julia would study her mother's face, trying to figure out what her mother was saying. At the same time, Julia would study her teachers' faces, trying to figure out English.

Julia's mother was the first to break the family tradition and send her girls to higher education. Julia was well Americanized at Abbot Academy. Julia's mother emphasized the importance of learning English. She insisted that they learn English. As hard as Julia tried, a Spanish word slide into her English.    

Sister Maria Generosa had a significant impact on Julia when Julia was in the sixth grade. Sister Maria Generosa did not make her memorize verbal rules. She allowed her to use her imagination when she picked up an item for them to translate into English. 

No doubt, Julia became fluent in English. She still thought of her English as a harder version of Spanish. But she could speak English as fluently as a Native English speaker. Now she writes in English:

Many of Alvarez's works are influenced by her experiences as a Dominican in the United States, and focus heavily on issues of assimilation and identity. Her cultural upbringing as both a Dominican and an American is evident in the combination of personal and political tone in her writing. She is known for works that examine cultural expectations of women both in the Dominican Republic and the United States, and for rigorous investigations of cultural stereotypes.

Julia Alvarez’s poem “Queens, 1963” tells the story of a diverse neighborhood in Queens, where there are mainly whites, but also Jewish, German, and Dominican people. The narrator of the story is from a Dominican family and after about a year passing, she says her family finally blended in. Now, that an African American family moved in across the street she is experiencing their change as she was experiencing hers but from a different point of view. The African American family is obviously being treated differently in a negative way. Cops cars are patrolling up and down the street and the neighbors are unkind and unfriendly. This poem describes the American people’s behavior towards the unknown and how it affects their lives. At one point she says, “Mr. Scott, the retired plumber, and his plump Midwestern wife, considered moving back home, where white and black got along by staying where they belonged.” If this was the case, why couldn’t this happen in their neighborhood? If everyone kept to themselves and minded their own business, they could live in peace among the diversity. But seeing as this was not the case, it will take another year and another family to come into their neighborhood, making the African American family “blend in” and put another family on the spot.
The narrator also states that a girl around her age could never be the “right kind of American.” America was a free country in 1963 and has been since after the Revolutionary war, but this freedom comes with a price. African Americans, Dominican Americans, and every other ethnicity that entered America and became half and half were continued to be looked at differently, treated as not Americans by the other families that were born in the country. But why? Why were they looked at differently and negatively by “true” Americans? There really are not any true Americans. America is the breeding ground for all different ethnicities. Immigrants from all over have come to America, but they are still not...

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