Something interesting that Sandra Cisneros' short story "Gerald No Last Name" reveals is how socioeconomic failures, like economic failures that produce the need to seek illegal work, can lead to a loss of identity.
It's first important to note that, in her short story, Cisneros equates a loss of identity with carrying no identification. If you carry no identification, like Geraldo, then no one can figure out who you really are and who you are connected to, like your family. Family plays a key role in a person's identity, and the lack of identification strips away access to family; therefore, lack of identification also leads to a loss of identity through a loss of family.
One reason why Geraldo died having no identification on him was because he was an illegal immigrant from Mexico; refraining from carrying any identification was one step he took to prevent himself from being deported. But we must also consider Geraldo's reason for having become an illegal immigrant since his becoming an illegal immigrant led to his lack of identification and loss of identity. His reason for needing to become an illegal immigrant is because Mexico's economy is doing too poorly to be able to provide for all the needs of its citizens, so Mexican citizens escape to where there are more job opportunities so they can send money to their families. Hence, it can be argued, as said earlier, that socioeconomic failures lead to loss of identity.
Therefore, if we want to argue that Cisneros' main point is to show how socioeconomic failures can lead to loss of identity, we might use the following as a thesis:
- Cisneros uses her short story "Geraldo No Last Name" to develop the theme that socioeconomic failures can lead to a loss of identity.
But to write a two-page paper, we must also figure out points in the short story to analyze that will help us prove Cisneros has indeed developed the theme we are arguing. We could use any number of literary devices to prove our point, including imagery, syntax, symbolism, diction, rhetorical devices, and even characterization. Two main points in your argument could be that Cisneros uses characterization of both Geraldo and Marin to portray both characters as lacking identity. We can even look at how Cisneros uses specific literary devices to develop her characterizations. For example, in the opening paragraph, we see her using some interesting imagery that really does very little to identify Geraldo, helping her to develop his lack of identity. She uses images like "pretty," "young," "worked in a restaurant," "green pants," "Saturday shirt," which are all fairly non-descriptive images. In other words, based on this description, we know a little about Geraldo but not much; we wouldn't be able to pick him out in a crowd, showing us exactly how she develops his characterization in a way that gives him no identity.
We see her develop Marin's characterization in a non-descriptive fashion too by using imagery but also by adding diction choices. For example, based off of the image "dance," we know that Marin "likes to dance," but we don't know much else about her. Through noun choices, we also know where she likes to dance, like "Uptown," "Logan," and "Embassy," and we know what kind of dances she likes to dance, like "cumbias and salsas and rancheras," but, again, we don't know much else about her, which illustrates the author's theme concerning lack of identity; even Marin has a lack of identity, who is possible also an immigrant from Mexico even though she may be a legal immigrant.
Once we've figured out main points of analysis we want to use to prove the author's main theme, we can expand our thesis to include those main points so that the thesis serves as a stronger road map to our whole essay. Based on the two things we've discussed above, our expansion could begin as follows:
- In her short story "Geraldo No Last Name," Cisneros develops characterization through imagery, diction, C, and D in order to develop her theme that social constraints can lead to loss of identity.
In this thesis, letters C and D represent two unnamed literary devices. Using that thesis, you would be using imagery and diction as two points with which to develop your argument concerning characterization and theme. All you would have to do from that point is choose two more literary devices, either to help you further prove her characterization or to further prove her theme in general, and fill them in for points C and D.