Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Ortiz Cofer’s commitment to document the Puerto Rican experience of adolescent female characters is evident in “American History.” In fact, her female characters, unlike the male characters created by other Puerto Rican writers, move away from the traditional cultural and linguistic separation of life in the barrio, to allow a more direct interaction between the environment and the self. “American History” singles out the development of the feminine psyche of a teenage Puerto Rican in a feminist text that incorporates the young woman’s voice into the struggle for racial equality.

As the narrator and protagonist in a story with few characters, Skinny Bones not only represents a transitional Puerto Rican generation, she also determines the literary devices. She narrates in a style that is clearly personal, fashioned after the popular female teenage practice of keeping a journal for careful recording of all of her daily activities. The technique resembles the Bildungsroman, a literary chronicle written from the point of view of a young character. As a Bildungsroman, “American History” introduces Skinny Bones’s personal view as an outcast character of society at large, including her vision of American culture from her perspective as a Puerto Rican teenager. That personal view gives to the text its freshness of expression and its unbiased stands on the subject matter presented.

The authentic testimonial narrative...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

American History Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Bruce-Novoa, Juan. “Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Rituals of Movement.” The Americas Review 19 (Winter, 1991): 88-99.

Davis, Rocio G. “Metanarrative in Ethnic Autobiography for Children: Laurence Yep’s The Garden and Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Silent Dancing.” MELUS 27 (Summer, 2002): 139-158.

Faymonville, Carmen. “New Transnational Identities in Judith Ortiz Cofer’s Autobiographical Fiction.” MELUS 26 (Summer, 2001): 129-160.

Kallet, Marilyn. “The Art of Not Forgetting: An Interview with Judith Ortiz Cofer.” Prairie Schooner 68 (Winter, 1994): 68-76.

Ocasio, Rafael. “The Infinite Variety of Puerto Rican Reality: An Interview with Judith Ortiz Cofer.” Callaloo 17 (Summer, 1994): 730-743.

Ocasio, Rafael. “Puerto Rican Literature in Georgia? An Interview with Judith Ortiz Cofer.” Kenyon Review 14 (Fall, 1992): 56-61.

Wilhelmus, Tom. “Various Pairs.” Hudson Review 43 (Spring, 1990): 151-152.