Why it is called Mericans?by Sandra Cisneros From: Woman Hollering Creek.

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rogal eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title "Mericans" is used in this short story by Sandra Cisneros to refer to a mixed cultural heritage, the Americanization of Mexicans. The word "Merican" appears to put together the two words "American" and "Mexican." Thus, throughout the story, the writer blends in a Mexican culture with an American one. The story begins with three Mexican children who are waiting for their grandmother outside of a church. The use of Mexican words such as “la ofrenda," “La Divina Providencia," and “La Virgin de Guadelupe” to describe various entities within the church, helps to present a Mexican culture. The three children call each other using their American names, which are Michelle, Junior, and Keeks. However, the grandmother specifically addresses her grandchildren using their Mexican names, which are Micaela, Alfredito, and Enrique. Michelle is the narrator of the story. The grandmother speaks to Michelle in Spanish, a language that she can only understand "when paying attention." Michelle sees a couple, the woman dressed in pants and the man wearing shorts, and decides that they are foreigners, because everybody from around knew that “men were not supposed to don shorts, neither was it alright for women to wear pants to church." The couple talks to Michelle’s brother Junior in Spanish. They are quite surprised to hear him speak English to his siblings and ask him why this is so. Junior replies by saying that "we’re Mericans."

The grandmother refers to her grandchildren’s country of birth as a "barbaric country with barbaric ways." She is struggling to find her way across the two cultures, but, so far, prefers her Mexican heritage.

lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Mericans" is short for "Americans". In this short story, the word is uttered by one of the children at a point where three children are waiting for their "awful grandmother" who is in church praying. Outside the church, some tourists want to take pictures of the children, thinking they are Mexicans, but are surprised when the children speak to each other in English. Inside the church, the grandmother is praying, in Spanish, and outside the church, the children are playing, in English:

She’s so busy taking Junior’s picture, she doesn’t notice me and Keeks.

“Hey, Michele, Keeks. You guys want gum?”

“But you speak English!”

“Yeah,” my brother says, “we’re Mericans.”

We’re Mericans, we’re Mericans, and inside the awful grandmother prays.

This short story is from the collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, in which the author writes about what it was like for her growing up north of the US/Mexico border, surrounded by American influences while still being connected to her Mexican roots. The fact that the tourists think the children are Mexicans, but they speak in English illustrates the dual nature of Mexican/American children - caught between two cultures, searching for their identities.

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