Overview of Cofer’s Experience as Depicted in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Book

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About this sample


Words: 1045 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Words: 1045|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: May 7, 2019

Judith Ortiz Cofer autobiographical work Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood, is a collection of essays and poems that originate from Cofers childhood memories. Cofer specifically comments on the impact her family back home in Puero Rico and United States have had on her literary work and identity. In A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood, Cofer’s reminisces about the women in her family gathering for the afternoon story telling ritual during cafe con leche. Cofer’s grandmother, Mama, tells the embellished story of the towns character, Maria La Loca who has gone mad after being left at the alter. It is a cautionary tale told to serve as a lesson to the younger generations to be wary of love. The main focus of the essay lies in Mama’s powerful influence and expectations that surrounds the women and their ultimatum to fulfill the roles of the ideal housewives, which Judith seems to resist.

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Throughout the story, Mama represents the powerful influence of the traditional society that surrounds the women in Judith’s family. Judith states Mama as the “matriarchal power” (Ortiz Cofer, 805) that commanded and kept everyones attention. This signifies the strong and dominant voice Mama posses over the younger generation of women. The cautionary coentos serve a purpose of “teaching each other…what is it like to be a woman, more specially a Puerto Rican woman.” (804) The story of Maria La Loca is intended for Mama’s youngest daughter, Laura who is recently been engaged. Much Mamas dismay who “expressed serious doubts…she believed that marriage was not something men desired but simply the price they payed for privilege of children”(805) This emphasis that Mama has been hardened to love and fails to trust mens intentions. thus tells the tale of Maria being deceived and ruined by con man. Also, Mama braiding Judith’s hair is a symbol of her constructing her into the proper woman which parallels the reasoning behind her embellished story. “…cunetos are forever woven into the the fabric of my imagination, braided like my hair that day” (807) “We understood that neither the facts nor the details were important, only that a woman had allowed love to defeat her.”(807) This suggests that Mama and the women of the family see love as a kind of weakness that they need to battle against and be wary of. Furthermore, Mama’s heavy influence on her daughters and grandaughters is illustrated by Cofer’s “the morality tales told by the woman in our family for generations…became a part of my subconscious and later surfaced in my dreams and in my poetry” (805) This enhances the force of Mama’s words and lasting impact on their sense of what a woman is supposed to be. Mama asserts her expectations on her kin, carefully constructing cautionary stories in hope that they will stay true to themselves as Puerto Rican woman.

The women of the family are pressured to fulfill the roles of ideal housewives. Firstly, Maria is described as “…a beautiful girl, everyone thought she would marry…the richest man in town.” (806) It stresses how outer beauty will guarantee a rich husband. Cofer further explores the pressures put on young woman to get married into a respected family by illustrating Judiths mother being an “unspotted lamb, who had been accepted into a good family.” (806) Her pureness and Maria’s beauty had qualified them as marriageable. While Aunt Nena, represents the sacrifice that comes with being submissive and blindlesly accepted her role as an ideal housewife. Her husband is descried as “an ignorant and abusive widower” (806) Aunt Nena accepted the burden of marrying a selfish man and decided to stay with him despite his ill treatment of her. She portrays the quaint and dutiful wife who is willing slave away her whole life. Puetro Rican women are expected to make countless sacrifices for their families in the name of being ideal housewives and are confined to these traditional gender roles.

Although Judith portrays a strong understanding of her Mama’s ideals, she resits the constrictions placed on her. As the embellished story of Maria La Loca progresses, Judith realizes that she likes Maria. She states, “Maria La Loca interested me, as all did the eccentrics and crazies of our pueblo.” (806) She discovers that she can relate to Maria as she is also exiled by the community. Judith and her younger brother have become “cultural chameleons” (806) due to being immersed in Puerto Rican and American cultures. For instance “ As a Navy brat shuttling New Jersey and pueblo… I was constantly made feel like the odd ball by my peers.” (806) While Maria is known as the crazy towns woman, Judith is referred to as a Gringa, due to both deviating from what is acceptable in their community. Judith fascination with Maria manifests as she represents an alternative path that is not accepted by society. By staying single, Maria La Loca has had the chance to reclaim her life by not being dominated by a man. Maria has been able to create an identity that is her own and take charge of her life which Judith’s mother and aunts have failed to achieve. While it is evident Judith loves her family, especially her grandmother, she still resists the pressure put on her to grow up to be an ideal housewife. While most women of the family have accepted their roles as ideal housewives, Maria has shown a different path that Judith yearns to explore.

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Judith Ortiz Cofer’s essay illuminates the traditional gender roles imposed on woman by society. Cofers indirect commentary on societies views on women sheds light on the traditional gender roles that still need to be eradicated. Mamas embodies a powerful female presence in her families lives that has lead her daughters to fulfill the roles of ideal housewives. It is Judith, who resists the pressure and finds inspiration from Maria La Loca, a character that has chosen a different route. Cofer concludes, A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood with “another session ending with the laughter of women, all of us caught up in the infectious joke of our lives.” (808) Suggesting that all the women in Judith’s family are aware of their confinement in traditional roles.

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Overview of Cofer’s Experience as Depicted in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Book. (2019, April 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“Overview of Cofer’s Experience as Depicted in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Book.” GradesFixer, 26 Apr. 2019,
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