The main theme of "Quinceanera" is a young girl's coming of age and her feelings of ambivalence about it. In the poem, the fifteen-year-old teenager mourns the loss of her childhood and is hesitant about her foray into adulthood. Altogether, it is a confusing time for the narrator, and her words exemplify her ambivalent feelings about the transition.
Cofer skillfully uses literary elements to reinforce the main theme in this unique poem. For example, a simile compares the act of putting away the dolls of one's childhood to a burial of sorts.
My dolls have been put away like dead
children in a chest I will carry
with me when I marry.
The simile reinforces the narrator's unspoken fears about this new stage of her life. As she ponders the loss of her childhood, she is reminded that, with little warning, womanhood has been thrust upon her. She reaches under her skirt and feels her soft, satin slip, which she likens to the inside of her thighs. This simile again reinforces the girl's coming of...
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