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“Mexicans Begin Jogging” by Gary Soto


In his free verse poem “Mexicans Begin Jogging,” Gary Soto addresses the issues related to the employment conditions of Mexican Americans. The story of illegal factory workers who have to run when the police arrive for inspection explicitly demonstrates the existence of ethnic problems in society caused by disparities. However, the issue of disparities is expressed in the poem in an exceptionally ironic way that allows the reader to see the situation from the point of view of a Mexican worker.

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The major themes in the poem are connected to the personal experience of the author, who is living in two worlds, Mexican and American, but does not fully belong to one of them. The first theme is the conflict based on ethnicity, which is reflected in the encounter of Mexican factory workers with police officers (“Gary Soto”). This occasion contributes to the idea of disparities between them due to the illegal status of Mexican people in the United States. As Gary Soto shares the same ethnicity with them, the role of Americans and Mexicans in the poem reflects his own experience. The second theme in the poem is poverty, which is also known to the author (“Gary Soto”). Thus, the combination of two themes, ethnicity and poverty, shapes the basic idea of the poem.

The irony of “Mexican Begin Jogging” is in the way Gary Soto describes their actions. In this situation, the Mexican factory workers have to run from the police, and it is described by the author as jogging, even though it is not related to sport or any other leisure activities. Such an illusory impression of normalcy is strengthened by the use of metaphors (“Gary Soto”). Thus, he compares the line of factory workers running from the police with a wag to a short tail. The author also frequently uses similes in his poems, and this one is no exception to the rule (“Gary Soto”). They are contained in the second stanza, where he compares the crowds of people and the streets where the workers are “jogging” to a blurred photograph.

The poem “Mexicans Begin Jogging” by Gary Soto is a prime example of the author’s reflections on the stereotypical perception of ethnic minority population groups in the United States. The irony is in the way people living on the same territory perceive each other and how it prevents Mexican Americans from receiving necessary conditions for living. The choices of words, as well as the literary techniques used by the author, contribute to the idea of social disparities in present-day society.

“Quinceanera” by Judith Ortiz Cofer

The poem “Quinceanera,” written by Judith Ortiz Cofer, narrates the perception of transition from girlhood to womanhood in Puerto Rican culture. Being one of the most important periods in a girl’s life, Quinceanera also relates to the confusion of a person who has to come from one world to another (“Judith Ortiz Cofer: Puerto Rican Writer”). Therefore, the poem is intended to demonstrate the feelings of a girl becoming a woman and the accompanying changes in her attitude towards the world and herself.

The central theme of the poem is this transition period, which is accompanied by various changes. They relate to the necessity to leave the past behind, the way the girl puts her dolls away, and pay attention to what the future is bringing. The author vividly describes her feelings at that time: hesitation, sadness about the lost childhood, and curiosity about the world. For a while, the girl belongs to both worlds of children and adults, and this fact defines the feelings she has.

Judith Ortiz Cofer managed to convey her emotions relating to Quinceanera in the poem with the help of various literary techniques. In the beginning, she uses similes to express the attitude of the girl towards the elements from the past and the future (Raisa and Rufinus 2). Hence, her dolls become dead and are buried in a chest, and her slip becomes soft. These objects help the author to express the changes accompanying the transition period.

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She also uses imagery by focusing on the details of the girl’s everyday life. Therefore, the reader can imagine the main character stretching her eyes open or hearing herself growing at night (Raisa and Rufinus 2). These details contribute to the perception of coming changes by the girl. Moreover, numerous hyperboles are indicating the depth of her feelings. They are reflected in the physical sensations such as hairpins in her hair, and her skin that seems to be tight over bones. The combination of all the techniques mentioned above allows the author to convey a clear picture of how girls feel when transitioning into women.


The poem “Quinceanera” by Judith Ortiz Cofer is focused on the feelings of girls in one of the most important periods in their lives. The poet managed to convey them with the help of various literary techniques, such as similes, imagery, and hyperboles. The story in the poem reflects not only the experience of a girl at that time but also the personal experience of the author, who is a representative of the culture with such traditions as Quinceanera.


“Gary Soto.” Power Poetry, 2019. Web.

“Judith Ortiz Cofer: Puerto Rican Writer (1952-2016) – Biography and Life.” PeoplePill, 2019. Web

Raisa, Metha, and Albert Rufinus. “A Study on Figurative Language Covering Simile, Metaphor, Personification and Symbol in Poem.” Jurnal Pendidikan dan Pembelajaran Khatulistiwa vol. 6, no.10, 2017, pp. 1-7.

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