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Hispanic American Literature Analysis

The story Nilda by Nicholasa Mohr is focused on a Puerto Rican household in the Bronx in 1904s through the eyes of the daughter named Nilda (Mohr, 1973). The central conflict of the story is racism, an issue that follows Nilda and her family throughout her public life. Thus, instead of protecting a low-income family, various social services such as police, school teachers, and nuns do not provide appropriate support (Mohr, 1973). Moreover, the book’s essential motive is the uneasy process of growing up as a minority in poverty, since Nilda witnesses death, mental instability, racial injustice, and police brutality. Overall, the conflict of racism and poverty is central in the life of a child maturing due to oppression at an early age.

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Nilda is a vivid example of hardships that people of color had to face in 1940s America. Being a minority is provoking racial discrimination not only through verbal abuse but also systematically. The family from Nilda was in a situation of poverty; however, their skin color made it more challenging to get the appropriate help (Mohr, 1973). Nilda’s life is fulfilled with negative consequences associated with systematic racism and machismo. In particular, the episode in the Catholic camp that makes her experience humiliation, which pressured Nilda to find and then to lose faith.

In the Filomena by Roberta Fernandez, the Day of the Dead is a blend of the Christian tradition, using alters and prayer, with indigenous religious ceremonies. Birds are present, cawing and squawking, adding an exotic soundtrack to the service (Fernandez, 1990). During the actual celebration, candles are used to light the room, and local children provide music on various instruments they brought to the ritual (Fernandez, 1990). Filomena, taking on the role of a master of ceremonies, prays while the guest plays music. The cacophony of bird noises and music with Filomena’s prayer conjures Alejandro’s image for the narrator. Overall, the atmosphere described is chaotic; the participants are battered with sound, both natural and human-made.

Filomena participated in the traditional ceremony called Day of the Dead. The customs are rather unusual; however, the protagonist enjoys the process and is honored to participate in the event (Fernandez, 1990). In the chapter of the book called La Doctora Barr by Mary Helen Ponce, the traditional Mexican diet after childbirth is being compared to a modern approach by doctor Barr. The description of a conventional way of caring for the mother after birth includes the fact that she should not be exposed to bathing and should lie in bed instead for at least six weeks (Ponce, 1993). On the other hand, Barr recommended a contemporary solution, which young mothers approached, while the older generation “shook their heads in amazement and issued dire warnings” (Ponce, 1993, p. 80). Thus, in Filomena, the main character enjoys the traditional rituals, whereas, in La Doctora Barr, women experience conflicts of interest between two generations.

In Filomena, bilingualism is used in a twofold manner. Firstly, loan words from Meso-American practice into Spanish crop up in the text, primarily in the context of culture, tradition, reminding the reader of the age and heritage of items and events presented in the story (Fernandez, 1990). The second use of bilingualism is to differentiate Filomena from the narrator, as Filomena uses Spanish to communicate (Fernandez, 1990). This sets Filomena apart and indicates that she is somehow different from the text’s primary voice and the presumably English-speaking readers.


Fernandez, R. (1990). Intaglio: A novel in six stories. Arte Publico Press.

Mohr, N. (1973). Nilda. Arte Publico Press.

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Ponce, M., H. (1993). Hoyt street: An autobiography. University of New Mexico Press.

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