"How to Tame a Wild Tongue" is a popular book among readers of literature. It contains different stories of an individual who had gone through difficulties with her identity. The story opens with the main character Gloria Anzaldua in a dentist's office. She described the problem that she was facing as that of the tongue. It is known that dentists are involved with taking care of teeth and not the tongue. Therefore, the character uses the tongue metaphorically to represent her language problems (Anzaldua 45). She had found it difficult to express herself in the dentist's office. The personnel within the facility found it difficult to communicate with her due to the insufficient knowledge of the common dialect that was commonly used at the office. The character remembers many instances that affected her in identifying herself. The situations in her childhood had caused her to have low self-esteem in the long run. On one instance, the character remembers when the teacher in her class asked her to go to the corner of a class from trying to pronounce her name.
The author presented as the character as an individual who was not able to communicate fluently using the Spanish language. According to the story, she had a combination of various languages and could not confidently or fluently communicate with either of them. This made it difficult for her to establish social relationships with the people she interacted with in different environments. Being a Chicano, she experienced a lot of difficulties in finding her identity. People could not easily understand her behavior. Those who needed to understand her had to dig through many layers of her language (Anzaldua 15). Also, she argued that understanding the different struggles she had been through since her childhood could help people in better associating and identifying with her. The many deep scars that she experienced in her childhood still affected her in her adulthood especially because she went through more discrimination being a Chicano.
Being of Chicano descent, Gloria could not comfortably interact with the people who spoke English or Spanish fluently. During the time of the setting of the book, she could have been discriminated against by the two groups as she could not communicate fluently in either. During her tutoring in Chicano language, she faced a lot of difficulties communicating to the learners (Anzaldua 16). She felt uncomfortable teaching the language as she could not communicate using the Hispanic or English language fluently. This is clear evidence of how much she suffered in finding her identity.
The story is used to explain the political, economic and social effects of the European invasion on the border of America and Mexico. According to the author, when the Europeans conquered the American region and settled there, the natives were affected as they had to move from their native habitats to new regions (Anzaldua 17). This led to the interaction of the Mexicans and the people in Texas. The offspring from the intermarriages were the Chicano. They did not have a complete identity just like Gloria, and it frequently affected their self-esteem. Most of the Chicanos did not have a sense of self-validation. If they had been from one of the ethnic sides, then they could have a higher level of self-identity and self-esteem (Anzaldua 18). Gloria among other people of the Chicano descent ended up letting the comments of other people influence their self-identity. Not knowing Spanish or English languages bothered them and they continued to experience worse identity problems. The author of the book has focused on highlighting the problems that majorly affect the people from Chicano descents. In the society today, there is discrimination among the African American and the people from minority groups such as Mexicans in America. The occurrences of discrimination lead to the affected individuals losing their self-esteem in the long run. This is a major problem that may affect a great society for generations (Anzaldua 45). Due to the lack of enough the exposure to other people from other ethnic communities, it becomes difficult to learn new cultures and languages. This is what has made it difficult for the Chicanos to live comfortably within the society for a long period.
The author has used language as a symbol of identity. Most people in the society understand language as the use of words to communicate a message from one person to another. However, a language is defined by the author as the way we interact and communicate with each other. The accent of an individual is however used to identify the specific language that a person uses to communicate (Anzaldua 47). For instance, when Gloria speaks, people can easily identify her Chicano accent. This is used to identify her as a person who is not an English or Hispanic native. Most people within the society have been discriminated against by being considered as not bonafide members of a particular community. This is due to their difference in the pronunciation of words and the construction of sentences when communicating. The author has used different examples from the life of Gloria to show how language problems may lead to social problems of discrimination. Discrimination then results in a lack of self-esteem. This is the primary reason why Gloria was always careful before speaking in public. She was always afraid of what people would say about her accent and her language.
The author has used the description as a technique to let the readers understand the concepts of language. According to the book, it is evident that when individuals are involved in social interactions, they are bound to be judged by third parties. The description, in this case, was a scenario when Gloria was judged by her teacher when she tried to pronounce her name. She was discriminated against and made to go to a corner where she could try and pronounce the name. This made her feel and scared (Anzaldua 25). Considering this scenario, the author describes the situation the character was in and the consequences she faced in trying to find her identity. In addition to this, she also faced discrimination from the native Hispanic and English speakers, and they could not accept her as one of them. The description of her rejection by the two groups was used by the author to showcase how people from Chicano groups are discriminated against due to their inability to fluently express themselves as native English or Spanish speaking individuals.
In conclusion, the author has achieved to discuss the various problems the Chicano community undergo due to their difference in a language and accents. Through the use of symbolism, metaphors among other literary elements, she was able to communicate effectively to the readers. The main objective was to show the effects of the social economic and political changes in the American region to the society.
Anzaldua, Gloria. How to tame a wild tongue. na, 1987.
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