American Chica

by Marie Arana

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 385

American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood is a memoir by Marie Arana. As such, there are no distinct characters; however, Arana highlights the people in her life who have had the greatest influence. Below are several of these characters.

Arana. The main character in the story is Arana herself. She discusses her past with reflections on culture and heritage. Arana is both Peruvian and American. She was raised between the cultures and struggles to make sense of her own identity. She describes how she comes to terms with these two different worlds. Ultimately, she determines that she and her family thrive in the in-between.

Marie Elverine Clapp Capelle Arana. Marie is Arana’s mother. She is born and raised in rural Wyoming and strongly identifies with Midwestern culture. She believes in American progress and forward thinking. This places her at odds with her husband’s Peruvian culture, which generally has a greater appreciation for tradition. Marie was married three times and did not tell her last and current husband about these marriages until their wedding day. Arana reflects on the ways in which the turbulence in their marriage is what kept them going. Marie generally is unhappy in Peru, but lives there for fourteen years with her husband.

Arana’s Father. He is not discussed as much as Marie but is still a central character in the family dynamic. Her father is a direct opposite of her mother. He is strongly attached to Peruvian identity and culture. However, he makes great compromises to keep the family together. When Marie has fits of rage or quickly changes her mind, her father supports her decisions. Arana describes the struggle of masculinity and machismo in their marriage. In Peru, men are taught that they are heads of the family. However, this was not so in their marriage.

Victor Manuel Arana Sobrevilla. He is Arana’s paternal grandfather. Arana describes him as a recluse. He was a college professor who retired early and kept to himself. Arana questions her grandfather’s actions and delves into their family history.

Julio Cesar Arana. He was a distant relative who was known for enslaving Indigenous peoples in Peru.

Pedro Pablo Arana. He was a distant relative who was the previous governor of Cusco. He steps down from the position out of shame.

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