Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In “We Blacks All Drink Coffee,” as in the other stories in the collection, collaborating with the revolution makes for praiseworthy citizens. Although endorsement of communist ideals is not overtly political, nothing less than a sympathetic perspective would be publishable in the highly censured society in which Mirta Yáñez writes.

The narrators in this collection are often young brigadiers who, while on volunteer detail, witness life in the coffee-growing town of Florida Blanca, and as a result of this experience develop a personal understanding of people and communities different from those back home. The story “We Blacks All Drink Coffee” differs in that the narrator/protagonist is a would-be brigadier whose sympathies for people and behavior considered unworthy by her mother spark a family crisis. Unlike Yáñez’s predilection for external settings, this story remains contained within the household in which the quarrel erupts.

Typically, in Yáñez’s stories, a lack of clear dialogue leaves the reader to surmise who is doing the talking. This is further complicated in “We Blacks All Drink Coffee” because the narration is filtered through the direct interior monologue of a teenage girl. The unsuspecting reader must figure out from bits and pieces of conversation that an argument is underway.

In Yañez’s clever rendering of the daughter’s stream of consciousness, the voices of both teenager and mother...

(The entire section is 577 words.)