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Introduction

(Drama for Students)

Migdalia Cruz’s one-act play, Telling Tales, is actually a grouping of eleven individual monologues. It was first produced in 1990, and its playscript is available in a volume of the same name, edited by Eric Lane. Like many of Cruz’s other plays, Telling Tales focuses primarily on the experiences of Puerto Ricans in the United States. Cruz told the Non- Traditional Casting Project, ‘‘People of color are different and I think our differences are important.’’ Cruz also tends to explore Latino heritage through women and their unique point-of-view as they come to terms with their racial identity, cultural background, religious beliefs, and sexuality. The narrators of Telling Tales—perhaps one narrator drawn from Cruz—share painful memories, such as the narrator whose close friend was raped and murdered when they were only eight years old. They also share gratifying memories, such as the narrator of ‘‘Yellow Eyes,’’ who enjoys a close relationship with her aged great-grandfather. Cruz gives them free rein to vividly express their feelings of anger, remorse, and confusion. They must face prejudices from the white-dominated world outside the insular South Bronx of Cruz’s childhood. When viewed together, these eleven monologues show the development of a young Puerto Rican girl into a strong, independent Latina storyteller.

Summary

(Drama for Students)

Sand
The opening monologue of Telling Tales, ‘‘Sand’’ focuses on an eight-year-old girl whose friend has been raped and murdered. The narrator tells about the day that the neighborhood men caught the rapist, which causes her to recollect the violence he inflicted upon her friend. The neighborhood men throw the rapist in the playground sandbox and beat him. Long after the rapist has been turned in to the police, the neighborhood children avoid the sandbox.

Jesus
‘‘Jesus’’ is about a young girl whose older sister, Tati, suffers from severe lead poisoning. While Tati is in and out of the hospital, her illness becomes the focus of the family and demands most of the attention of the narrator’s parents. The narrator’s mother tells her to pray to Jesus and gives her a picture of a Jesus with a bleeding heart. When the narrator makes a pincushion for her mother, it is shaped like a heart, and she keeps wondering if it will bleed. Eventually, Tati comes home for good, but she suffers from mental deterioration.

Yellow Eyes
‘‘Yellow Eyes’’ is a recollection of the narrator’s great-grandparents. The narrator enjoys a good relationship with her great-grandfather, but her greatgrandmother she describes as delusional. The narrative juxtaposes the great-grandfather’s love for his wife with her disdain or condescension toward him and the rest of the family.

Papo Chibrico
‘‘Papo Chibrico’’ tells the story of Papo, a dwarf who lived in the narrator’s neighborhood. He was her first crush, and he befriended her. For many years, she did not realize he was different from the other boys. At the age of...

(The entire section is 1,104 words.)