Who's the narrator in "Liberty"?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The narrator of the story is a young girl, probably about 10-12 years old, living in a country that is undergoing a crisis of some sort.

The narrator of a story is a little girl.  We do not know her name, but she lives in some kind of troubled island country with her “Mami” and “Papi.”  Since the author is from the Dominican Republic, the story is likely taking place there.

The little girl is happy to get the puppy that gives its name to the title of the story.  It is given to them by the American consul.

The American consul wanted to thank us for all we’d done for him since he’d been assigned to our country. “If he wanted to thank us, he’d give us our visas,” Mami grumbled. For a while now, my parents had been talking about going to the United States so Papi could return to school.

Mami is not pleased to have a dog.  She considers the dog trouble, and is worried that the family will not get the visas they need to get out of the country.  She thinks the dog is just a worthless token gesture—a consolation prize.  Her mother is sort of right.

He ate all of Mami’s orchids, and that little hyperactive baton of a tail knocked things off the low coffee table whenever Liberty climbed on the couch to leave his footprints in among the flower prints. He tore up Mami’s garden looking for buried treasure.

They name the dog Liberty out of a hope for the future anyway.  To the little girl, he is just a fun puppy.  She does not really understand how much her mother is afraid, and how badly the family needs to get out.  Her mother’s hopes for the future are not as meaningful to her.  Papa forgives the dog, saying it does not understand Spanish.  He is so hopeful for the future that he doesn’t care.  To him, the dog represents that hope.

Things get real for the narrator when she sees two men in sunglasses sneaking around her house.  They frighten her, grabbing Liberty.  They make her promise that she hasn’t seen them.  The next thing she knows, “Mister Victor” from the embassy comes to look in on them, and when he isn’t there he has someone from the embassy there to “keep an eye on them.”  It was no longer safe in the house to talk about certain things, because the house is bugged.  The narrator realizes they are planning their escape.

The image of the two men in mirror glasses flashed through my head. So as not to think about them, I put my arm around Liberty and buried my face in his neck.

She understands that she will have to leave her dog.  The dog cannot go with them to the United States, so she has to choose between her family, and her puppy.  It’s a difficult choice for a little girl to make, but sometimes even a little girl has to choose.

Growing up is difficult to do.  A war makes growing up much faster.  The narrator of this story is having to deal with her country's war, and the loss that comes with it.  She will face many changes ahead, but the first one was the change of realizing she had grown up enough to leave behind the dog she loved to give her family a future.

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