Student Question

In Julia Alvarez's ¡Yo!, how is the theme of identity explored?

Expert Answers

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The theme of identity is explored in ¡Yo! through providing different perspectives on Yolanda and her family members.

The book successfully uses the technique of having multiple narrators.  Each one gets to have an individual say, and share a personal perspective.  They also get to share their opinions of Yolanda, especially how she seems to judge them and how she depicts them in fiction.

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. (Prologue)

Even though Yolanda never gets to tell her side of the story, we get to learn about her through the others.  The identity search does not just affect Yolanda.  As she searches for herself, she uses all of her family members and friends as stepping stones, and we see that becoming the person you are meant to be is not as easy as it sounds. 

Though Yolanda is a successful novelist, she is not quite as successful in her own life.  As Lucinda says, she lives her life “mostly on paper.”  Yolanda has trouble emerging as herself, even though she is a character carefully drawn and fleshed out by others.

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