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In the story "Inside Out" by Francisco Jimenez (1997), Jimenez feels different and left out because he cannot communicate with his teacher or classmates. Do you think you would feel more lonely if you were by yourself all day or if you were surrounded by people speaking a language you do not understand? Why?

In the story "Inside Out" by Francisco Jimenez, the narrator demonstrates how a language barrier makes him initially feel more lonely. He at first feels lonely and alienated from his teacher and classmates, but in time the situation gets better. It is important to consider this when deciding whether you would feel lonelier all alone or surrounded by people whose language you do not understand.

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The narrator in "Inside Out" by Francisco Jimenez is a member of a Spanish-speaking migrant farm-working family who is entering the first grade at a school where instruction is carried out only in the English language. On the way to school, his brother Roberto, who is entering second grade, tells him that a teacher beat him with a ruler when he couldn't answer in English.

At school, the narrator can understand nothing that anyone says to him in English. Because the teacher forbids her students to converse in Spanish, his communication is restricted to a few furtive words with a boy named Arthur, who speaks a little Spanish as well as English. The situation causes the narrator to feel isolated and lonely. He finds it frustrating to be unable to communicate with his teacher and classmates or to read the words in the schoolbooks.

This question calls for your personal opinion as to whether you would feel lonelier by yourself or surrounded by people who do not understand you. Before you decide, though, it is important to understand a few details about the author's intent.

When the narrator first enters the classroom, he sits near a jar that contains a caterpillar. As time passes, the caterpillar spins a cocoon and eventually metamorphoses into a butterfly. At the end of the story, the narrator opens the jar and lets the butterfly fly away free while the whole class watches. The caterpillar changing into a butterfly and flying is a metaphor for the narrator's situation. When he first arrives he can barely move like the slowly-creeping caterpillar. However, he learns, grows, and makes progress. He changes and matures, which he would not have been able to do if he had stayed all alone instead of going to school.

The other important symbol in the story is the narrator's drawing of a butterfly that wins first prize in a contest. Artwork is a means of communication that transcends language. In the end, through his artwork the narrator is able to gain the respect of a student who was formerly his adversary.

We see, then, that the narrator is able to achieve growth by putting himself into the situation at the school, whereas if he had stayed away alone, he would not have learned anything. He might have felt lonelier initially in the classroom, but ultimately his courage in remaining in that situation leads to breakthroughs in friendship and community.

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