In Everyone’s Lives In HisStoryAlvarez Shows Language is A Tremendous Difference In Everyone’s Lives In HisStoryRudy and Yolanda communicated in completely different languages. Bylanguage, I mean the written, and spoken kind. More so I mean the traditions,and values that go hand in hand with learning a language. When they learnedtheir own languages, they inherited their own set of ideals, that were changedby what, where, and how they were taught.
Yolanda’s language was Spanish. She learned to speak Spanish in theDominican Republic.
Her lifestyle was one of a strict Catholic girl. Yo had avery traditional father. He allowed nothing but what was the social norm. Hissocial norms became hers. When she moved to the U.S., she was completely naivewhen it came to the American culture. Yolanda was raised in the way that the useof drugs and alcohol were totally unheard of. Pre-marital sex was something thatwas taboo, and strictly reinforced. She had grown up with very traditionalvalues that were adopted from her mother and her father.
She was never exposedto any outside stimuli. Whether or not it was voluntary, she was forced toconform to the rigid Hispanic values. This conformity kept her at bay. Shecouldn’t experience the things necessary to become a whole person.
Rudolf B. Elmhurst was a young man from a liberal family in the UnitedStates. His parents were easy-going people, with thoughts of letting Rudydevelop on his own. He learned English much the same way Yolanda learned Spanish.
He was taught by his parents. He also absorbed the culture around him and helearned the American way of doing things. Rudy had quite a bit of freedom. Hecould have come and gone as he pleased. He had no restrictions, and was allowedto grow freely. With that opportunity Rudolf Brodermann Elmenhurst was able tolaugh along with everyone else at the mention of his difficult to pronounce name.
He had been allowed to grow unrestricted, but not unchecked. While his parentwere liberal, they still gave him the attention necessary, and the room toevolve. This independence helped him to be who he was, invincible to insult,injury, and always in control.
When Yolanda and Rudy first met they were in English class. He hadshowed up late and totally unprepared for class, the exact opposite of her. Shemarveled at how he could walk in late, take what she thought of as anembarrassing scene, and laugh about it. She always went to class early, had allof her books and was well prepared for class. She also got extremely embarrassedwhen he laughed about the pencil, which he considered no big deal, but a chanceto show off. Rudy and Yolanda had been raised differently, and this affected howthey interacted socially. This is one of the most pronounced differences betweenthem that is brought about by language, and the ideals that accompany theirdifferent backgrounds.
Rudy and Yo were working on their poems for class. Yolanda used thestyle she had been taught. She followed the instructions to the letter. Rudy hadwrote about what he wanted, and tried to be the class clown. This was anotherdifference in their language. She had been taught to do as told, and doeverything correctly. Rudy was doing what he wanted, as he was taught to. Heused the assignment as a chance to get attention, to be noticed. Yo shied awayfrom anything of the sort. She was quiet, and shy, he was loud, and likedattention. This was another side effect of language. In learning the strictHispanic values, Yolanda had learned that children were supposed to be quiet,proper, etc. Rudy just did what came natural. He wasn’t taught to fear anything,so he never had that problem. The different languages taught differentmentalities, and were based on the values of the teachers.
Somehow they decided to work together on their homework. She helpedwrite his poem using the phrases and double meanings that he thought would beappropriate. It was pornographic by her standards, but she didn’t know what anyof it meant. She wrote her poem using the format that she was taught to. When itcame time for the two to read their poems Yolanda read hers first. No one knewwhat she was talking about because they had a different frame of mind. Then Rudyread his poem the whole class erupted with laughter. The rest of the class hadunderstood all of the inside jokes, and puns. He later explained to her all ofthe little details that she couldn’t understand. Yolanda couldn’t comprehendwhat was going on because of her language, and the way she was raised. She wasnever allowed to experience anything of the sort, so it all seemed alien to her,just as her poem had to him, and the rest of the class.
After a short time dating, Rudy began to try and introduce sex intotheir relationship. He had up to that point corrupted her to drinking, smoking,and doing a variety of drugs. She still hung onto the fear instilled in her as achild. Rudy had never had to have that fear, he was totally uninhibited. Shewanted to experience sex, but she told herself no. She still had the old fearsin her head. The threats of her father, the priests, and the other fears she hadinvented, stemming from the roots of her language, and the Hispanic upbringing.
The language Rudy used, and the ways he described sex had also driven her away.
When he refereed to sex as “getting laid” it completely turned her off. Shethought it was supposed to be very romantic, and everything would be set justright.
Eventually she overcame the barriers, and made love to men. Rudy was notone of them his American overconfidence, and frustration turned her off. The waythey communicated about sex, and love was a major difference in languages.
Yolanda had acquired the idea that sex was an act of love, and should be treatedas such, and introduced as such. Rudy was interested in the short termgratification of “getting laid.”Rudy and Yolanda grew up learning different languages, and at the sametime learning the cultural norms of the area in which they originated. Theybrought their values with them when they went to college. Rudy had the samestyle of free upbringing that most Americans at that time had.. Yolanda wasraised by a stern father, who left no room for argument. The barrier betweenYolanda’s world, viewed through her Hispanic background, and the new world shemoved into was very hard for her to overcome.
Eventually she changed, and adapted more to the American culture, as shebegan to learn the English language first hand. The languages that these twoyoung adults had learned molded who they were. They each learned a differentlanguage, so they had different, conflicting ideals.
Gradually one language gets assimilated by another. Yolanda began tolose her language, and her Hispanic values. The more popular American style tookover. She was captured by the new culture, and almost completely lost her oldone. Rudy soon faded from her life. People are affected by how, where, and whenthey are raised.
Alvarez shows that language is a tremendous difference in everyone’s’lives. Everything that is the norm for one person is completely alien to someoneelse, and visa versa. The language, spoken, written, and cultural play a hugepart in who we are. Rudy and Yo, are just two small examples of language in anever changing world. English
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