Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Family Installments: Memories of Growing Up Hispanic, Edward Rivera’s semifictional memoir, chronicles the lives of three generations of a Puerto Rican family. The bittersweet vignettes capture the drama of immigrant life in America and the struggle to achieve an identity within two cultures.
Santos Malánguez’s paternal grandfather, Xavier F. Alegría, a schoolteacher and painter, commits suicide in 1919, heartbroken by the death of his wife Sara. Three of Xavier’s children, including Gerán, Santos’ father, are adopted by the maternal grandparents Josefa and Papá Santos Malánguez. During the Depression, the three brothers split up in search of work. Gerán is hired as a field hand by the tyrannical landowner Gigante Hernández, who has a son and eight daughters.
The light-skinned Gerán marries Gigante’s oldest daughter Lilia, an Indian-looking young woman. The young couple, struggling through economic hardships, seek a better life in the United States for their sons Tego and Santos. Survival in the new home is difficult; the jobs are few and the pay low. Charity and welfare checks are insulting. The father is determined to pay for the education of the children and sends them to parochial school.
As a child growing up in Spanish Harlem, Santos experiences the turmoils of being a Hispanic student in an Irish Catholic school. He is ridiculed by teachers and peers because of his shyness and second-language...
(The entire section is 384 words.)
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