Writing an essay on the thesis Sandra Cisneros's "Geraldo no last name" develops her characterization through imagery diction and rhetorical devices in order to develop her theme that social...

Writing an essay on the thesis Sandra Cisneros's "Geraldo no last name" develops her characterization through imagery diction and rhetorical devices in order to develop her theme that social constraints can lead to a loss of identity

how can I relate this to Lorenz Sell's articles on "losing my identity" and what four main points can I argue on.? Thanks

Expert Answers
andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first part of your question makes it clear what the focus of your response should be: '... that social constraints can lead to a loss of identity.'

Firstly, what are the similarities between the texts in this regard?

In both situations, the characters have suffered some kind of loss. In Geraldo's instance, he has lost his home or, he is alienated from his home as an (possibly illegal) immigrant. Lorenz Sell has also lost his home, having had to live in his car for an extended period of time.

The 'social constraints' which have led to these losses, however, differ. Geraldo was forced by circumstance to find a means of earning an income since his home country had nothing to offer. The economic slump in his country did not allow him to earn, since job-opportunities were non existent. Geraldo had to, therefore, find a way to be productive and gainfully employed. His only choice was to leave home and seek opportunity in another country.

Lorenz Sell, though, by choice gave up his position as a CEO and became an indigent, living in his car for four years, incurring massive debt and facing bankruptcy. He was not forced by social constraints to lose what he had, and he retained the security of being in his home country.

The 'social constraints' suffered by the two men after they had given up what they had, one through circumstance and the other by choice are similar. Both lost their identities. Geraldo because he did not carry any identification and Lorenz because he had given up all the externalized factors which formed his identity - made him who he was. Once again, Geraldo was driven by factors beyond his control to hide his identity, probably the fear of arrest and enforced repatriation, whilst Lorenz loss was self-imposed. 

Secondly, one may look at the manner in which both scenarios are presented. Sandra Cisneros short story is a work of fiction. She presents a fictionalised account of the conditions in which immigrants in the US find themselves and expresses a sympathetic viewpoint. Lorenz Sell presents a factual account of his experiences.

Thirdly, what are the intentions of both authors? It is clear that Sandra Cisneros symphatises with the plight of immigrants and wishes readers to share that sentiment. The diction in the story evokes empathy. The language is informal and the author employs many Spanish terms to add to the realism. Lorenz Sell uses more formal language. His purpose is to encourage and inspire. The discussion of his situation is to create an awareness in the reader that one can conquer adversity if one realises that potential is not locked in how one is perceived by others but rather by how one perceives oneself. Cisnero's short story has no such psychological depth. It is a simple story, about a complicated and controversial issue.

Lastly, the tone of both pieces is different. Cisnero's tells a simple story in simple, straightforward informative language. The tone is serious and urgent, it makes the reader aware of the injustices suffered by immigrants - the fact that their needs are generally ignored, that they are relentlessly pursued and persecuted, that their needs are dismissed, etc. The story is not about One incident only, but carries a universal message.

Lorenz Sell's article is more about how he had overcome difficulty and had been brought to new insights as a result of his experiences. The language is formal and the tone is quite serious, since the author wishes to inspire and make readers realise that trepidation should not be a permanent stumbling-block, but should be an inspiration for self-actualisation and achievement.    

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Geraldo No Last Name

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