Geraldo No Last Name Questions and Answers
by Sandra Cisneros

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Cisneros uses many short sentences and sentence fragments in "Geraldo No Last Name." How does this effect the impact of this tale?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Cisneros uses short sentences and sentence fragments in "Geraldo No Last Name" for a few reasons. First, these sentences replicate the way Marin might have explained what happened to the authorities and to others who asked. She did not really know Geraldo, and she likely had had to repeat the same story again and again. Therefore, she likely used staccato sentences out of exhaustion and because she really did not know much about Geraldo.

In addition, these short sentences leave the reader with the sense that we, and the people in the story, don't know much about Geraldo. His life has been cut short, and the people who were with him when he died did not know any of the details of his life. As Cisneros writes, "They never saw the kitchenettes. They never knew about the two-room flats and sleeping rooms he rented, the weekly money orders sent home, the currency exchange." Geraldo clearly had had a deeper, fuller existence, but he died almost anonymously, without friends or family who know who he was. These short sentences leave us, as readers, with the sense that there is a fuller story about Geraldo that we don't know.

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accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Personally I think the fragmented style of writing that Cisneros adopts has a great effect on the impact of this piece. There is a sense in which the style links to the theme of the vignette. We are given a series of fragments of sentences in a very broken style:

She met him at a dance. Pretty too, and young. Said he worked in a restaurant, but she can't remember which one. Geraldo. That's all. Green pants and Saturday shirt. Geraldo. That's what he told her.

Note that this broken style reflects the shock and disorientation of Marin in finding out that the man she had danced with just a few hours before had been killed. However, there is a sense in which this broken, incomplete style also reflects the incomplete picture we are given of Geraldo and his story. He is left unfinished, a hidden figure of whom we capture only vague glimpses. This relates to the central theme of the plight of migrant workers, who need to remain anonymous for their own safety.

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