How does Yolanda juggle being a successful novelist and a loyal family member?

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Yolanda struggles with being a family member and a writer in the way that all people struggle with family relationships and all writers struggle with writing. However, there is a correlation in the novel between her writing and the difficulties she has with her family. This correlation is certainly one of the dynamics within the novel that affects Yolanda the most, as it causes her a great deal of anxiety.

Specifically, Yolanda's work is heavily based on real family and her real relationships with them. This is good from a writing point of view, as she will identify with the stories she's telling to the greatest extent, which will make them more powerful for her and the reader. However, her family feels as if she's betrayed their confidence by putting intimate and true details of their lives in her work.

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In the book ¡Yo! by Julia Alvarez, how does Yolanda struggle to be a loyal family member and novelist?

Yolanda knows the struggle her family has undergone because of their immigration to the United States from the Dominican Republic.  As a result, she absolutely struggles to be both a loyal family member and novelist.  Yolanda’s dad, Carlos García, has to give up his profession in order to come to America with his wife and children.  A successful doctor back in the Dominican Republic, Carlos has to switch to servile work in America until he finally is able to practice medicine years later.  Eventually, Yolanda struggles to be a loyal family member by pursuing her career as a novelist.  In some ways, her efforts backfire.  The reader learns about this through the sixteen speakers in the novel.

I’m driving downtown for groceries with the kids in the back seat and there she is on Fresh Air talking about our family like everyone is some made-up character she can do with as she wants. 

In writing and speaking about her family in order to be loyal to them, Yolanda often offends the members of the family she loves.  Private information is revealed; however, it is revealed in order to express pride for her native country.  The prologue is especially important in expressing this concept of violation of privacy.  What ends up happening as a result is that Yolanda becomes a successful novelist, but she is not as successful in being a peaceful member of the family.  Lucinda even admits that Yolanda is forced to live her life “mostly on paper.”  In this way, the reader can truly see the struggle Yolanda has in trying to be both a loyal family member and a novelist.

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