Multicultural Literature: "Poisoned Story"

Topics: Social class, Working class, Puerto Rico Pages: 8 (2546 words) Published: March 30, 2006
Latino culture, specifically Puerto-Rican culture has changed through the course of history. Puerto Rico has witnessed a fusion of races and cultures spanning over many years, starting in 1898, after the Spanish-American war. Ultimately, Puerto Rico was annexed to the United States, the Puerto Rican people made United States citizens with limited restrictions and granted commonwealth status. The changes made during those eras did not come without consequences to the Puerto Rican culture. In "Poisoned Story", author Rosario Ferre depicts the political and economic changing norms and tensions between the social classes of the Puerto Rican's culture. In Ferre's story "Poisoned Story" several major themes are prevalent through the story: opposition between the aristocratic and working class, literacy, interpretation of historicity and magic realism.

The overriding structure of the story is based upon a narrative conflict between the characters which dramatizes the issue of the actual "writer" within the story. The reason this is important is because the concepts of the Puerto Rican history is based upon experience of the individual Puerto Rican. The class structure between rich and poor at one time was clear. During this story, the class structure and culture of two generations against the backdrop of the United States relationship is developed. The characters within the story represent several classes of people in the Puerto Rican society. Also, Ferre uses a narrative style in the story that introduces different "writers" within the story or shall we say different perceptions of occurrences of history based upon personal experience within the Puerto Rican fusion of culture.

The Puerto Rican economy was disturbed with the United States intervention which led to classes of people being displaced within society, as was the case with the character of Don Lorenzo. Don Lorenzo was Rosaura's father. After the death of his first wife, Don Lorenzo married his second wife named Rosa. An important issue of this story is the masculine character of Don Lorenzo represents and the fact that he married out of his class when he married Rosa, leaving behind his traditions and some of his culture. The character of Don Lorenzo transitions through the story. In the beginning, Don Lorenzo is viewed in high regard, with pride for his land and culture. As the story progresses Don Lorenzo looses his land, his home, and his heart as he and his aristocratic culture deteriorates before his very eyes with the help of his new wife Rosa and changing social structure.

Rosa is an antagonistic source and character in the story. Rosa is the representation of the lower class of society, or the "working class". Good with her hands, the character of Rosa is represented as being cunning and resourceful by one of the writers, and bitter and cruel by another. Depending on who is writing the story, there is a like and dislike of this character on several levels in regards to the interactions with both characters Don Lorenzo and Rosaura.

Rosa is described as being from the working class, much different from Lorenzo's first wife. The physical description describes Rosa as having "broad hips with generous breasts" who "reestablished" Don Lorenzo's domestic comfort after the death of his first wife (p.9). Rosa is also described as coming from a different class background when being described by her customers:

"Whoever would have thought it; from charwoman to gentlewoman, first wallowing in mud, then wallowing in wealth. But finery does not a lady make."(p.8).

This class jumping is important to recognize in the fact that Rosa was once Don Lorenzo's wife's caregiver, and now she has replaced the aristocratic mother and wife, defying the social system of poor vs. rich. Rosa's character transitions from poor to rich, similar to a creative Puerto Rican rendition of a Cinderella story: rags to riches. Rosa is also instrumental in leading, or forcing the...
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