Questions and Answers for American History

American History

What is the theme of the story "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

The themes of American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer are cultural isolation and the effects of racism and xenophobia, signified in Elena's difficulty living in Patterson, New Jersey and how the...

Latest answer posted October 13, 2017 3:39 pm UTC

2 educator answers

American History

What is the main conflict in the short story "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer?  

Additionally, the main conflict can also be placed in the character-versus-society category. As the story progresses, we come to the realization that Elena feels alienated from her parents, her...

Latest answer posted October 5, 2016 5:49 pm UTC

2 educator answers

American History

In Cofer's "American History," what happens when Elena goes to Eugene's house?

In Cofer's "American History," Elena suffers the results of a prejudiced situation when she goes to her friend Eugene's house. First, the mother, not Eugene, meets Elena at the door. After Elena...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2016 7:52 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

From Cofer's "American History," what do Elena and Eugene have in common? 

Elena and Eugene both live in Paterson, New Jersey and attend Public School No. 13. Elena has been there longer, though, because Eugene moves into the house next door to her apartment building just...

Latest answer posted February 11, 2016 7:31 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

From Cofer's "American History," how is El Building described and what is its significance?  

Elena describes the apartment block where she lives—colloquially known as "El Building"—as being like "a monstrous jukebox." This description tells us two things about the place. First of all, it's...

Latest answer posted October 18, 2019 6:45 am UTC

2 educator answers

American History

How is Elena a dynamic character in the short story "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

A dynamic character is one who learns a life lesson or dramatically changes his or her mind or personality throughout the story. Elena, in Cofer's "American History," learns a dramatic lesson by...

Latest answer posted April 7, 2016 9:00 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What personal lesson in "American History" had Elena experienced deeply?

The personal lesson that Elena learned is that there are different levels of outsiders, and she would be considered beneath Eugene by his own family. For Elena, a personal heartbreak converges...

Latest answer posted April 28, 2014 5:18 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

In "American History," why do you think Elena's mother doesn't stop her from going to Eugene's house?

Elena is a fourteen-year-old girl whose mother is concerned about her—just like any involved mother would be. And just like many teenagers, Elena feels as though her mother is too concerned for...

Latest answer posted April 25, 2018 6:56 pm UTC

3 educator answers

American History

Why do you think Judith Ortiz Cofer decided to name her story "American History"?  

I would argue that the main reason that Cofer uses this title is that the story illustrates one of the abiding themes of American history: racial prejudice. Despite being a land of immigrants, the...

Latest answer posted December 29, 2018 8:15 am UTC

2 educator answers

American History

What are some quotes from American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

The best quotations tend to be those that give one a better understanding of the relevant text. In the case of American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer, there are a number of such quotations, all of...

Latest answer posted November 5, 2019 9:35 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

How does Elena feel about her home and Eugene's home?

Elena is not happy with her home, especially when she compares it to the house next door. At first, Elena innocently spies on an elderly couple who lives in the house next to her large tenement...

Latest answer posted April 8, 2016 5:58 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What does Elena feel on the day President Kennedy gets shot? Why is she partially sorrowful that night?

Strange as it may seem, Elena's not really thinking too much about President Kennedy's assassination. Although her mother is utterly distraught about this tragic event, Elena's too preoccupied with...

Latest answer posted December 27, 2018 7:18 am UTC

2 educator answers

American History

How might one compare and contrast Eugene and Elena in Judith Ortiz Cofer's "American History"? 

Eugene and Elena are different because she is a Puerto Rican girl who lives in a large apartment complex and he is a white boy from Georgia who has just moved into the house next door. She has a...

Latest answer posted March 30, 2016 5:34 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What personal lesson in "American History" has Elena experienced deeply?

Another personal lesson Elena learns is that love is often complicated by life events that are beyond one's control. Within this life lesson, there is also a deeper lesson: inherent biases are not...

Latest answer posted September 4, 2018 2:40 pm UTC

2 educator answers

American History

In “American History”, why is Elena so happy on the day of President Kennedy’s death?

In spite of the sadness that engulfs El Building and the surrounding environs on the day of President Kennedy’s death, Elena is happy because finally, Eugene has invited her over to his house. He...

Latest answer posted December 24, 2017 3:38 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What is the climax of "American History" by Judth Ortiz Cofer?

The climax of the story comes when Elena goes to Eugene's house to study. Elena's developed a crush on Eugene, and she sees this as a great opportunity to spend more time with him. Unfortunately,...

Latest answer posted March 27, 2019 7:02 am UTC

2 educator answers

American History

How is the narrator characterized in "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

Elena is the protagonist as well as the narrator of Cofer's short story "American History," so any descriptions of her character are based on what she experiences or feels. One of the first...

Latest answer posted April 7, 2016 8:37 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

Why does Elena find it so shocking that Mr. DePalma, of all people, is crying?

Mr. DePalma is a very strict teacher, so Elena is surprised that he should be crying. Elena sees Mr. DePalma, the science and physical education teacher, as tough and firm. Students who appear to...

Latest answer posted February 27, 2013 12:20 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

Why does Elena like Eugene in "American History"?

At the beginning of the story, Elena confesses that her only “source of beauty and light” that academic year was Eugene. Eugene’s family moves into a house neighboring Elena’s apartment in August....

Latest answer posted September 10, 2020 12:31 pm UTC

4 educator answers

American History

In Cofer's "American History," Eugene's mother says, "I don't know how you people do it." What does this comment...

In Cofer's "American History," when Eugene's mother says, "I don't know how you people do it," she automatically creates an unequal relationship between Elena and herself. Whenever someone says...

Latest answer posted September 12, 2016 8:14 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What would you say is the main idea of "American History"?

The main idea of this excellent story concerns the nature of prejudice and discrimination and how the experience of America as a nation parallels the experience of Elena herself. The death of...

Latest answer posted October 5, 2011 8:39 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

How does the title "American History" relate to the theme ?

Judith Ortiz Cofer's "American History" is about a Puerto Rican girl and what happens to her on the same day as President Kennedy's assassination. The assassination is a major event in America's...

Latest answer posted May 12, 2016 3:40 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

How is Elena's background different from Eugene's in "American History"?  

Elena is Puerto Rican and she lives in a tenement building for immigrants. Eugene is from Georgia, white, and lives in the two-story house next to Elena's building. It seems as if Eugene's family...

Latest answer posted May 12, 2016 3:09 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

In Cofer's short story "American History," what does the appearance of Eugene's mother tell us about her?

Judith Ortiz Cofer's short story "American History" is told from the perspective of a young Puerto Rican girl named Elena. Elena looks out from the fire escape of her apartment building down to the...

Latest answer posted March 30, 2016 8:22 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What do you think is the real reason that Eugene’s mother turns Elena away?

Elena develops a serious crush on Eugene. He is a tall, blonde, blue-eyed boy with glasses who just moved into the neighborhood. Eugene's family originally hails from Georgia, and his Southern...

Latest answer posted June 14, 2018 1:03 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What does the dirty slushy snow in "American History" written by Judith Ortiz Cofer symbolize?

The dirty, slushy snow in "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer symbolizes urban depression. Think of snow as one of the stages of the never-ending water cycle. It is the form of precipitation...

Latest answer posted September 3, 2015 9:33 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What are three examples of racial inequality that Elena faced?

Elena, the main character in the short story “American History,” was a ninth grader at Public School Number 13 but she hated it there. She was a victim of racial inequality as evidenced by several...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2015 10:51 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What is an example of irony in Judith Ortiz Cofer's short story "American History"?

"American History" mostly centers around the day that President Kennedy got shot, which was November 22, 1963. The story has a number of ironic elements to it. First, Elena is a Puerto Rican...

Latest answer posted March 30, 2016 4:46 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What is the conflict between Elena and Gail?

I would suggest that there are a couple of levels to the conflict between Elena and Gail. On one hand, Elena is in a lower social "grouping" than Gail. Gail is at a higher level of the social...

Latest answer posted November 28, 2013 1:14 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What are some literary devices that American History and A Raisin in the Sun have in common?

One literary device that is shared in both works is their characterizations of women. Skinny Bones is developed as a young woman of color in a time period where such voices were absent. She is...

Latest answer posted July 23, 2013 1:09 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What do you think happens to Elena and Eugene after the story is over?

At the end of Judith Ortiz Cofer's "American History," Elena is told by Eugene's mother not to be friends with her son anymore. Based on the fact that Elena and Eugene attend the same school and...

Latest answer posted November 27, 2017 5:45 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What do Elena and Eugene have in common?

Elena and Eugene share a love for books, but they also share the same feelings of alienation from society, their families, and their peers. In truth, both are lonely individuals. At school, Elena...

Latest answer posted May 8, 2019 3:37 pm UTC

2 educator answers

American History

Why does Eugene's mother refer to Elena as "One of those people"?

Elena has developed a massive crush on Eugene, the new boy at school. They start spending more time together, until one day—the 22nd November, 1963—Elena goes round to Eugene's house to study with...

Latest answer posted October 1, 2018 7:00 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What events in the story "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer would have turned out differently if John F....

The setting in Cofer’s story "American History" is November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Thus it is appropriate to say the story would have been completely...

Latest answer posted April 22, 2016 6:30 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

How did the Spanish perceive Native Americans?

This question is difficult to answer without a context; there were many Native Americans that the Spanish encountered in their explorations and conquests throughout the Americas. Certainly the...

Latest answer posted November 19, 2013 5:00 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

In Cofer's "American History," what is Mr. Depalma's way of having kids exercise?  

Elena is the protagonist in Cofer's short story "American History." Her Physical Education teacher is Mr. DePalma at Public School Number 13 in Paterson, New Jersey in 1963. The majority of the...

Latest answer posted April 8, 2016 5:13 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

In "American History" by Judith Cofer, what is the most important lesson that Elena learns?

Elena is a Puerto Rican girl who lives in a tall apartment building called El Building in Paterson, New Jersey in the 1960s. Next door to her apartment is a two-story house that she can see from...

Latest answer posted March 30, 2016 8:47 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

Who or what is the antagonist in the short story "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer? 

As was mentioned in the previous post, Elena experiences ethnic discrimination from her African American classmates, who make derogatory comments about her appearance and ethnicity. While Elena is...

Latest answer posted June 7, 2017 10:44 am UTC

2 educator answers

American History

In Cofer's "American History," what does Eugene represent for Elena?

Elena is a teenage girl who lives in a Puerto Rican apartment block with her family. She also attends a public high school with a student population of mostly African Americans. She has a difficult...

Latest answer posted October 11, 2016 4:59 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

From Judith Ortiz Cofer's "American History," what would you say to Elena about her experience with Eugene?  

Cofer's protagonist in "American History" Elena, whose family has recently moved to New Jersey from Puerto Rico, feels the effects of being different at a school with a mostly African American...

Latest answer posted October 11, 2016 4:21 pm UTC

2 educator answers

American History

In the short story "American History" by Cofer, what would you like to say to Elena? Explain.

Elena is young, hopeful for the future and daydreams about things she can't have yet. For example, she becomes enamored with the house next door to her apartment complex because of the love she...

Latest answer posted April 4, 2016 5:53 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

When and where is the story set?

This short story by Judith Ortiz Cofer is set in the United States in 1963. The action of the story takes place on the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and is actually interrupted by this...

Latest answer posted July 9, 2018 3:55 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

From Judith Ortiz Cofer's "American History," what common interests and conditions help to develop a friendship...

Elena and Eugene are both minorities at Public School No. 13 in Judith Ortiz Cofer's short story "American History." Elena is a Puerto Rican girl and Eugene is a Caucasian from Georgia, but they...

Latest answer posted January 27, 2016 6:27 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What words does Elena use to describe her building?  

One of the first set of words that Elena uses to describe her home is a "Puerto Rican tenement known as El Building." A tenement is defined as an over-crowded, usually run-down and poor building....

Latest answer posted April 8, 2016 5:28 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

Construct a response juxtaposing the green door, which symbolizes hope, with Eugene's response to Elena at the end of...

To juxtapose means to place to things next to each other in order to contrast them. The short story "American History" by Judith Ortiz Cofer relates the story of a young girl of Puerto Rican...

Latest answer posted September 19, 2019 3:17 am UTC

1 educator answer

American History

Please provide examples from "American History" for the following different character types: static, dynamic, and flat.

Cofer's "American History" does have an example character for each of the following character types: static, dynamic, and flat. First, a static character is defined as one who does not change over...

Latest answer posted April 26, 2016 5:08 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

What does Elena enjoy looking at from her window?

Elena is a teenage Puerto Rican girl who lives in Paterson, New Jersey in 1963. Her family lives in an apartment complex called El Building, and she likes to go out on the fire escape to read. Her...

Latest answer posted March 31, 2016 4:07 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

Toward the end of “American History,” Eugene’s mother tells Elena, “I am truly sorry if he told you you could come...

Eugene's mother wants Elena to understand that Elena's family and her family are different. It's implied that she does not want her son hanging around people like Elena because she is not of the...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2019 4:59 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

In Judith Ortiz Cofer's short story "American History," what does Elena mean when she says that her tears are...

Cofer's "American History" mostly focuses on what happens to Elena on November 22, 1963, the day that President Kennedy was shot. Mr. DePalma, the P.E. teacher, cries when he tells the students...

Latest answer posted March 30, 2016 6:59 pm UTC

1 educator answer

American History

From Cofer's short story "American History," what effect did this event have on the people of El Building?

The major historical event that affects the people in El Building is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Cofer provides two images of the building: one representing...

Latest answer posted January 27, 2016 7:40 pm UTC

1 educator answer

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