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In the Time of the Butterflies

by Julia Alvarez

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What do you think are the major themes and concerns of Latinos as presented in literature? The depiction of a minority group through literature.

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One primary concern is identity. While identity is a theme in many areas of literature, in Latino literature it takes on several particular/specific twists. The most important of these are linguistic, geographical, and ethnic. To spell these out as questions, Latino literature tends to ask things like, "What does it mean to speak English vs. Spanish? Who am I in English? Who am I in Spanish?' These linguistic questions accompany geographical ones: "What does it mean to be so far from the place that used to be my home? Am I still Mexican/Columbian/Puerto Rican if I live in New York/LA/Miami? If so, what does this mean?" Fairly clearly, these combine with ethnic concerns, though these concerns often address treatment by the larger society: "Why does society not understand me/my culture? How can I as a person who is Latino fit in with a culture that is not?"

These tend to combine with treatments of economic status (poverty, and what it means to rise out of poverty), family (what happens when part of a family speaks English and part Spanish, but also concepts of honor, duty, and loyalty), and gender (the traditional male and female roles).

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