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Im ELEVEN, Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One

Sandra Cisneros, a Chicana writer, is characterized for her short stories and novels about the life of Mexican immigrant children and their struggle to overcome poverty. In the short story “Eleven” Cisneros shows the reader what Rachel, the main character, feels on her eleventh birthday. Through the manipulation of certain elements of writing; plot, point of view, and language and style; the author projects Rachel’s discovery that adults are not always right. Without these elements the theme would be intangible. This discovery, or the story’s theme, is part of three phases children go through. First, as infants enter elementary school they idolize their parents and tutors, then as they become adolescents in middle school these young adults challenge their mentors knowledge and advice. Finally in high school, they become indifferent to their parents and tutors�to complete a full isolation from their superiors until they reach adulthood.

As most of Cisneros works “Eleven” is set during childhood, and develops around a familiar environment that connects reader and main character. “Eleven” takes place on the eleventh birthday of Rachel, the narrator and main character. On this day, Rachel has to go to school where the teacher makes her day miserable by giving her a sweater that is not hers and making her wear it until a classmate recognizes the sweater and claims it. However, in order for Cisneros to introduce the theme in an effective manner, Rachel points in the exposition “What they [adults] don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one” (DiYanni 1). By doing this Cisneros establishes the conflict Rachel is having with adults and how she believes they are wrong people gradually grow old not in yearly steps which initiate on birthdays. Moreover, during the rising action, Rachel’s teacher, Mrs. Price, finds a sweater and tries to find its owner. However, nobody can remember whose it is so she gives it to Rachel, which she hates because she and the teacher know its not hers. At this point, enraged by her teachers bold mistake Rachel states, “Because she’s [Mrs. Price] older and the teacher, she’s right and I’m not” (DiYanni 14); thus, further marking her defiance towards Mrs. Price because the teacher is wrong. Additionally, at the resolution of the story Cisneros stands out her theme telling the reader that although Rachel has a happy evening as everyone sings Happy Birthday, it is to late because her parents guide her towards the wrong meaning of birthdays. With this said, Rachel discovers that adults are not always right.

When a reader finishes “Eleven”, he sympathizes with Rachel and does not think she is immature and stubborn because the story is told from first-person point of view, which distorts the world thus the reader sees and feels with Rachel. The first trait point of view conveys on the reader is when Rachel compares aging to “…little wooden dolls…” (DiYanni 1) by doing this she shows her simplicity and innocence; moreover, by mentioning her toys Cisneros puts Rachel as a child that is still pure and knows not much. Then, by justifying that one can cry because one might feel three years-old (DiYanni 1) Cisneros demonstrates how na├»ve and dreamy Rachel is. Furthermore these two characteristics, innocence and naivetes, revive the reader’s childhood experiences and emotions putting him in a bias with Rachel that makes the theme more realistic.

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However, what makes all these elements link is the language and style that Cisneros use� in two words simile and imagery. The imagery provides the pictures for the theme to develop. For example, Rachel says that “…all the years inside of me…are pushing at the back of my eyes…” (DiYanni 14) and that “…the part of me that’s three wants to come out…” (DiYanni 14) provides the picture that she grow gradually and her age is layers of experience that provide us with advice. Similes on the other hand are used throughout the story as descriptive language and then base to set a tone of voice characteristic of an eleven-year-old. Evidence of this is abundant throughout the story but it becomes more present during the falling action of the story. After the teacher makes Rachel put on the sweater Rachel describes the sweater as“…the sweater that smells like cottage cheese…” (DiYanni 14), and later on saying that her head “hurts like when you drink milk too fast…” (DiYanni 14). In both instances, her similes make it easier for the reader to interpret what she is feeling. Furthermore, the language and object that are employed to assemble the similes are simple and infantile, something that gives sense of a child telling the story.

As “Eleven” shows the reader the world of an eleven-year-old, it also puts him in Rachel’s shoes and revives those experiences the reader has isolated and forgotten. Hence, Cisneros has accomplish show to the audience through the elements of writing-and the eyes of Rachel-that adults are not always right, one can conclude that “Throughp the child’s eye, everything seems different” (Anon.).

Work Cited

DiYanni, Robert. Literature Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Compact Ed. McGraw Hill, 000.



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