In "Straw Into Gold: The Metamorphosis of the Everyday," what family taboo does Cisneros break?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The central taboo that Cisernos reveals she has broken is that she affirmed her own identity as a woman as opposed to capitulating to the cultural expectations for women.  Cisneros makes it clear that one of the reasons why all that she has done is significant is predicated upon her rejection of the gender- based construction of her Latina identity.  Going against this strain is where she breaks "the taboo:"

Especially because I am a woman, a Latina, an only daughter in a family of six men. My father would’ve liked to have seen me married long ago. In our culture men and women don’t leave their father’s house except by way of marriage. I crossed my father’s threshold with nothing carrying me but my own two feet. A woman whom no one came for and no one chased away. To make matters worse, I left before any of my six brothers had ventured away from home. I broke a terrible taboo. 

Cisernos breaks a taboo in not accepting the cultural limitations of what she must be.  She rejects the conventional institution of marriage as well as the constraints on what a girl can do.  She leaves home.  Cisernos gets an education. She stands as her own woman, her own thinker, and her own creative individual.  She is autonomous and forming her own identity as well as creating her world and her place in it.  It is in this way where Cisneros breaks the taboo which is extended from her culture. Cisneros's actions indicate that individuals might not have to be limited as a part of the world around them.  The creative spirit, the one that is able to make straw into gold "with a little imagination," can play a formative role in a person's identity.  Taboos are made to be broken when the spirit of what can be is revered within an individual's subjective.  Cisneros breaks this family taboo as a significant aspect of the narrative presented in the essay.

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