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How does the title Silent Dancing relate to the text?

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Judith Ortiz Cofer's Silent Dancing relates to the text in both a literal and a metaphorical sense. The literal meaning of it is a reference to a home video of people dancing she happens upon. As the video camera used to record the tape did not record audio, the video itself is just a silent video of various people dancing. This creates an eerie effect that fascinates Ortiz.

Throughout her life, Ortiz experiences the pressure of expectation from all directions, be it the pressure from her family to perform as a traditional woman in Puerto Rican culture or the pressure from the world to assimilate into the American way of life. Ortiz finds quiet ways to experience joy as the world seems to stifle her at every turn, creating a "silent dance" of her own.

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The complete title of the book is Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood. It is a collection of essays and poems that explore the author’s childhood growing up in Puerto Rico and New Jersey. Ortiz presents a memory of a home video of people dancing. There is no music in the background and this becomes an iconic memory for her as she attempts to pull together memories. The title likely literally alludes to this very direct example in the text. However, there are many subtle references throughout. Ortiz also describes the struggle she and her family encounters living between two worlds. On the one hand, she experiences pressure from the women in her family to be a traditional Puerto Rican woman. On the other hand, her father strongly encourages the family to assimilate to American values and culture. Ortiz dances between and struggles silently to find her own voice. In another light, Ortiz is also literally dancing between locations. She spends much of her childhood in Puerto Rico and then some of her adolescence in New Jersey. Every time her father went to sea, she and her mother were sent back to Puerto Rico. She must learn the customs and cultures of each location and must learn how to fluently dance between them. Once again, she has little say in the dance between locations and silently must learn to survive.

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The full title of Silent Dancing by Judith Ortiz Cofer is Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood. The particular phrase "Silent Dancing" refers to a specific memory of Ortiz Cofer's childhood.  She recalls a home video that she watched numerous times with her mother of people dancing at a party. There is no sound in the video, and the video quality is poor, but the image of the people dancing silently is one of the links to her childhood memories. The link to this particular home movie is so strong that she calls it "the only complete scene in color [she] can recall from those years."

Silent Dancing contains memories and reflections within those memories about Ortiz Cofer's experience growing up as a Puerto Rican child in New Jersey and spending months at a time in Puerto Rico. It also mentions her father's desire for complete assimilation as well as the desire of her mother and her mother's family to impart aspects of the Puerto Rican culture into Ortiz Cofer.

The title, Silent Dancing: A Partial Remembrance of a Puerto Rican Childhood, not only tells you the general idea of the book, but also hints directly at one of the partial remembrances found in the book.

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