Claribel Alegría

Start Free Trial

Explain how Alegría uses characterization to express one of the themes in "Granny and the Golden Bridge."

Alegría uses Granny's apparent craziness to illustrate the theme of resistance in "Granny and the Golden Bridge."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Claribel Alegría's short story "Granny and the Golden Bridge" depicts a conversation between an unnamed narrator and her friend Manuel. The tone of the conversation is light and nostalgic, which belies the seriousness of the circumstances Manuel's grandmother lived through. At first, it appears that Granny's allegiance is to the junta that had led a military coup in El Salvador. It seems strange, too, that Manuel, who works with people who would have opposed this coup in the civil war, looks back on his grandmother with so much affection and warmth.

In the first story Manuel tells, Granny gets up early every morning to make food for soldiers of the state army. She thought this would be an opportunity to make money, but Manuel says that "she only charged them for the cost of the food she cooked, and she didn't earn a penny for all that work." Throughout the story, Manuel characterizes his grandmother as crazy, and her lack of profit on the food she sold seems absentminded, if not downright stupid. Her next decision, Manuel recounts, seems equally unaccountable: she dyes her hair red. What seems like an initially flighty decision actually turns out to be a surprisingly canny move to avoid detection by the army.

By the time we see Granny bring weapons and munitions to Manuel and other guerrillas at the end of the story, Manuel's fondness for her is very clear. Over the course of these three anecdotes, Granny transforms from someone aiding the army to someone actively resisting them. Her "craziness," then, is not a fault but a virtue. At first, it seems that Granny was crazy in that she didn't know what she was doing. By the end, we come to understand that when Manuel called her crazy, it was meant entirely as a compliment. Granny was unpredictable, moving in ways no one would have expected and finding ways to benefit herself and her side in the war. She may not have been a fighter, but she was, in her own way, a guerrilla.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team