Oscar Hijuelos

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Student Question

What is the author's purpose in Oscar Hijuelos' "Visitors, 1965" from Imagining America?

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Imagining America is a collection of thirty-seven short stories that addresses a variety of cultures by showcasing various immigrants and their lives in America. Many of the stories do touch on the political ramifications of being an immigrant in America. They also discuss the disparities between being an “illegal immigrant,” a refugee, a poor immigrant, or a business-owning immigrant, and how it makes such a difference in the lives of each one.

“Visitors, 1965” is written by American-born Oscar Hijuelos, who was raised by Cuban parents in New York City. His parents emigrated from Cuba in the 1940s. His experience in being raised in America by immigrants enables him to portray how it was to grow up in two worlds in his writing. “Visitors, 1965” is a story about two immigrants from Cuba, Alejo and Mercedes. It follows their lives, the problems they have to deal with as immigrants, the conflicting feelings they have about Cuba and Castro, and their eagerness to get their remaining family members out of Cuba. It also shows the conflicts their two sons, Horacio and Hektor, face as children of immigrants in America, including the frustration at feeling “Americanized” and losing a great deal of their true cultural heritage by growing up in a different country.

Oscar Hijuelos’s purpose in writing the story is to show the realistic experiences of immigrants living in America and the ordeals and conflicting emotions that they have to face daily, along with their children and family members.

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