How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents Questions and Answers
by Julia Alvarez

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What allusions are being made in How the García Girls Lost Their Accents?

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There's an interesting allusion to a particularly dark chapter in the history of the Dominican Republic when Fifi says of Chucha that she was a real Haitian because she couldn't say certain words like perejil, which is the Spanish for parsley. This seemingly innocent statement alludes to the brutal Trujillo regime's massacre of Haitians in the borderland area between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

In order to determine precisely which people should be condemned to die, the regime used a language test. As part of this test, people living in the borderlands were asked to pronounce the word perejil. Their attempts at pronouncing the word would then immediately reveal their ethnic identity; Haitians would pronounce the word one way, Dominicans another. Those who failed the test were immediately identified as Haitians and therefore marked for death.

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