Something to Declare Questions and Answers
by Julia Alvarez

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What did Julia say she wanted to be when she grew up in "Something to Declare"?

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Julia says at different times that she wants to be a bullfighter, an actress, and a poet.

At first, Julia tells her grandfather and parents that she wants to be a bullfighter, even though she has never seen a bullfight.  She saw a book on the coffee table.  They tell her what she really wants to be is a cowgirl, and they buy her a costume.

Then Julia fishes around, and finally decides that she wants to be an actress.  She is confused by the response though.

I didn’t know who Sarah Bernhardt was or what the difference was between a dramatic and movie actress.  The only walking of the boards I knew about was what pirates made prisoners do on the high seas.

They laugh at her because she cannot sing, and she is upset because she can’t be either an actress or a bullfighter.  She is searching for a profession that sounds interesting and will please them too.  Finally, she decides she will be a poet, like the cousin she has met who is constantly writing poetry in the bathroom with the shower going.

Her grandfather is constantly reciting Shakespeare and other poetry, in English and Spanish.  She likely says this because she knows he is passionate about it, and because it will please him.  He does in fact react positively to the news.  Her grandfather does not react by reciting poetry.

Instead, he took my face in his hand, tilting it this way and that, as if he had caught a big gold fish in his net and wanted to see it up close.  “A poet, yes.  Now you are talking.”

Does Julia choose this option because she loves her grandfather, and she has seen too examples of passion for poetry?  Does she just want to stop the questions?  Is she just trying to tell them what they want to hear?  More than likely.  No kids know what they want to be when they grow up, yet every adult asks.  We are curious, because it tells us where a child’s imagination and consciousness is at that point in time.  Sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t.  It also allows us to provide guidance to them if they really are serious.  Julia comes from a large family, and they do not have much.  What they can do is dream.

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