Names are much more than their literal definitions. Names are about language, culture, and more importantly, names hold a myriad of memories. It is no wonder that throughout childhood, we experiment and play with our given names to fit our identities, our true selves.
I was named after my maternal abuelita, Teresa. I never thought about it much, and indeed, I loved it. That is until about the age of 8, when my mother moved the family to the United States and enrolled me in a predominantly white school. My name changed; it was now “Trrr – eeh – zah” and I, in turn, changed. I was miserable! I didn’t like my new name, abhorred the sound of it and loathed everyone that called me this name. Hearing it was like a deliberately slow, infinite, screeching of fingernails across the blackboard that surrounded all four lengthy walls of our windowless classroom.
This name stayed with me for over four drawn-out years, until the sixth grade. At age 13, I decided I was going to change my name and take my identity back! If I couldn’t go back to being Te – ré – sa, then I was going to be someone else, certainly not Trrr – eeh – zah. At everyone’s repeated annoyance, I assimilated completely, head first, into American culture and became, drum roll please… Terry. No, Terri. Better yet, Teri. I finally decided to go with the latter, for no other reason than it closely resembled the nickname my family back home in México had for me, Tére. It wasn’t until my college days, and my study of philosophy, Chicano literature and degeneration, along with other diverse liberal arts courses, giving me a new, “Other,” perspective, that I decided to take back my abuelita’s name and become Te – ré – sa once again.
Why do I mention names? My name? Well, because today, Sententia Vera’s featured Spanish book is La casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. A common thread in this series of vignettes is the memories, relationships, and feelings that names hold for a young, Hispanic girl growing up in a Chicago barrio. Esperanza, who lives on Mango Street, says of her name, “It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color.” She later states her desire to change her name, “I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees.” Is she able to change it? I sure hope so.
La casa en Mango Street is a poetic read. It is light and deep, lyrical and intense, a timeless and treasured cultural, yet shared, experience.
Also today, Vintage Español, a division of Random House, Inc., and Sententia Vera, a cultural partner blog site of Dulce Bread & Book Shop, are teaming up for a cultural, literary giveaway! The first five (5) guests* that follow the next four (4) steps will win a FREE copy of La casa en Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Ready?
- Leave a comment here regarding your name. What does it mean to you? Have you changed it? Would you change it?
- Follow @VintageEspanol and @DulceBnB on Twitter (if not doing so already).
- ShareThis post on Twitter including both @VintageEspanol and @DulceBnB, as well as the hashtag #librosgratis.
- Lastly, email your home address* (not an email address) to email@example.com
*Must live in the USA
La casa en Mango Street
Edición del 25o Aniversario
By Sandra Cisneros
Spanish-language paperback edition