Geraldo No Last Name

by Sandra Cisneros

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What is the central idea of "Geraldo No Last Name" by Sandra Cisneros?

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The character Geraldo in "Geraldo No Last Name" represents the negative stereotypes attached to the many hard working immigrants that come to the U.S. to work, and who often share the same terrible fate—disappearing without a trace and no one seems to care.

In the story, Geraldo is killed in a hit and run after a late night dance. This is witnessed by the girl he had been dancing with, Marin. She tries to help doctors identify him at the hospital, but she barely knows him and he carries no identification. She also feels ashamed for being out with someone like him.

But what difference does it make? He wasn’t anything to her. He wasn’t her boyfriend or anything like that. Just another brazer who didn’t speak English. Just another wetback. You know the kind. The ones who always look ashamed. And what was she doing out at 3:00 A.M. anyway?

Little do they know, Geraldo wasn't just an immigrant who worked at a restaurant and partied at night. He worked hard and selflessly, and did whatever it took to send money to his family back in his home country. Instead, he is only seen as another one of the countless immigrants who goes up north and is never heard from again.

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The central idea of "Geraldo No Last Name" has to do with the harsh anonymity of immigrants in this country.  In the vignette, the other character Marin is quite upset when Geraldo is killed, but she cannot understand why she is so upset because she did not really know Geraldo.  She only knows his first name, which is the first marker of Geraldo's anonymity.  She believes that he works in a restaurant, yet at the end of the vignette, the narrator suggests that Geraldo worked in a string of kitchenettes to make enough money to send home to his family.  The anonymity of the immigrant experience is highlighted at the end of the vignette when Geraldo's experience is linked to that of others--in the end, his family knows that he left for a better life, not knowing the hard fate that has befallen him.

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