Geraldo No Last Name Analysis
by Sandra Cisneros

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Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The writing style of “Geraldo No Last Name” is simple, as is Cisneros’s style in her other House on Mango Street vignettes. Simulating the speech patterns of the story’s young narrator, the language is economical, as if the narrator wishes to express as many ideas as possible in the fewest possible words. In this respect, Cisneros’s prose resembles poetry by compressing ideas. Moreover, there are no superfluous embellishments in her prose, so that the reader easily accepts the presence of a young narrator telling Geraldo’s story in her own words. In addition to the reader, there is evidence that the narrator is relating the story to someone else whom she addresses as “you” in the fifth paragraph of the story.

The encounter of Marin and Geraldo is presented immediately in the opening sentences: “She met him at a dance. Pretty too, and young.” The narrator clarifies rather quickly the idea that the young man is “pretty” or looks pretty when she mentions that he is wearing his “Saturday shirt.” This is equivalent to stating that he is wearing his Sunday clothes—those that he reserves for when he is not working.

The hit-and-run accident that kills Geraldo is also mentioned early in the story, for this tragedy is an integral part of the major theme of the story, Geraldo’s anonymity. Marin’s fondness for dancing, which provides the reason for her being in the dance hall that night, is amply explained by simply mentioning the Latin dances that she knows how to do.

The narrator makes no pretense at objectivity. She expresses her own feelings about Geraldo’s situation. She believes that his anonymity is a shameful thing. Marin’s feelings are also made evident in the story. Although she cannot explain why the death of a nearly complete stranger should matter to her, she stays in the hospital for hours. She leaves only when they send her home “with her coat and some aspirin.” Moreover, the narrator worries about Marin’s having to explain why she has been out so late. Hence, through her narrator’s subjectivity, Cisneros makes the reader aware that she cares about social issues of this nature.

The narrator never tells the reader how she knows that Geraldo is an undocumented worker. Therefore, the reader surmises that Geraldo’s appearance and behavior probably match those of many illegal workers. For example, he does not reveal much information about himself, not even his last name. In addition, the fact that he works in a restaurant that he will not identify, probably as a dishwasher or a busboy, reinforces the idea that he is indeed an illegal worker.

Cisneros’s writing technique lies chiefly in the economy of words and in the portrayal of her sincerity through the use of a young narrator’s speech. The reader believes the story because Cisneros does not leave any loose ends.


(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Brackett, Virginia. A Home in the Heart: The Story of Sandra Cisneros. Greensboro, N.C.: Morgan Reynolds, 2005.

Cisneros, Sandra. “The Authorized Sandra Cisneros Web Site.”

(The entire section is 742 words.)