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

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

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 both live in Paterson, New Jersey on November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was shot. As far as personal interests are concerned, though, both Elena and Eugene enjoy reading books. In fact, Eugene enjoys sitting at his kitchen table to read and Elena would like to read in his kitchen as well. She would like to talk with him about his home state of Georgia because she starts reading Gone with the Wind. She thinks that she could understand the book better if she spoke with Eugene about the history of slavery in Georgia.

"I didn’t believe such a world had ever really existed, and I wanted to ask Eugene some questions since he and his parents, he had told me, had come up from Georgia, the same place where the novel was set" (Lines 128-130).

Another similarity is the kids at school have nicknames for them. Eugene is called a "hick" and Elena is called "Skinny Bones." When they are seen together at school the kids put the two nicknames together and saying "Skinny Bones" and the "Hick" (Line 135). By the school kids branding them as outcasts together, they seem to become closer friends. It's too bad that Eugene's mother gets in the way of them becoming closer friends when she prohibits her from studying together.


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial