Reflect on "Volar" by Judith Ortiz Cofer and discuss the effect of the way Spanish is used both in the title and throughout the story. What might these uses of Spanish add to our understanding of the setting, the characters, and the conflicts?

In "Volar," Spanish is used to express love and hope, as well as to pray. This show the dichotomy between the squalid setting, and the values and aspirations of the characters.

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There are only a few Spanish words and phrases besides the title in the English version of Judith Ortiz Cofer 's "Volar,"* and half of them are terms of endearment. The mother calls her husband "Querido," and he responds with "Mi amor" and "Mi vida." Even when speaking about facts...

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There are only a few Spanish words and phrases besides the title in the English version of Judith Ortiz Cofer's "Volar,"* and half of them are terms of endearment. The mother calls her husband "Querido," and he responds with "Mi amor" and "Mi vida." Even when speaking about facts and plans in English, love has to be expressed in Spanish.

At the end of the essay, the author's mother says, "Ay, si yo pudiera volar" ("Ay, if I could fly"). This is the reflection that always springs to her mind, and to her lips, at the sight of the garbage-strewn alley below. She says it after checking the time on a clock with "a prayer for patience and grace written in Spanish" upon it.

These examples, together with the title of the essay, make it clear that Spanish is not just a romance language, but a romantic one. It is the language of love, faith, and escapism. The parents express their affection for one another in Spanish, they pray in Spanish, and they dream in Spanish. The beautiful language is reserved for the best part of their lives, which contrasts with the grimness and squalor they see around them. This shows the way in which the setting contrasts with the values and aspirations of the characters.

*The standard English version of Cofer's essay translated by Elena Olazagasti-Segovia, from El año de nuestra revolución, retains these words and phrases in Spanish. This translation is attached below.

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