Geraldo No Last Name

by Sandra Cisneros

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In "Geraldo No Last Name," who is the protagonist, Geraldo or Marin?

Quick answer:

I think the main character in this story is Marin because she changes and Geraldo doesn't.

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Although if you were to ask, "Who is this story about?" I might answer Geraldo, when the question is "Who is the main character?" I have to argue Marin.

The reason I think Marin is the main character instead of Geraldo is because she is the one who goes through...

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a kind of transformation because of the events in the story. Geraldo died, but because we know so little about him, his death is not the central theme of the story.

The story is written because of the effect that Geraldo's death had on Marin. She is the one who was affected enough by his death to write his story. Her perspective is changed.

In a good story, in my opinion, the main character must undergo some kind of change or transformation. We want to see the character grow or discover something that will make everything different. We don't read stories for sameness.

With that argument, Marin is the main character because we experience change with her, whereas with Geraldo, we only experience loss.

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This is a very interesting issue to consider, because actually, although Geraldo is the real focus of this fragment from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, I believe that Marin is the true protagonist of this tale. Let us remember what the definition of a protagonist is. A protagonist is the main character we focus our attention on and the person who sets the plot in motion. If we think about this definition for one moment, the person who sets the plot in motion is Marin as she reports her answers to the police about her brief meeting with Geraldo:

She met him at a dance. Pretty too, and young. Said he worked in a restaurant, but she can't remember which one. Geraldo. That's all. Green pants and Saturday shirt. Geraldo. That's what he told her.

Geraldo is a character that we never meet and are only described through Marin's limited knowledge of him. It is as if the narrative itself is hiding him from us, just as he had to keep himself hidden. We only see him through Marin's eyes and we are told very little about him. The fragment instead explores the impact of his death on Marin, and her reflections on the life of migrant workers such as Geraldo. This is why I believe that Marin is actually the main character or protagonist in this fragment.

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