Monday, September 24, 2018

Reader's Diary #1909: Sandra Cisneros: Eleven

In my first year of teaching it became an informal ritual in my grade 3 class for me to sing Shirley Ellis's "the Name Game" for my students, substituting their names in as they'd go into fits and giggles once they were the star. Well, most. It turned out that one little girl found it humiliating to discover her name rhymed with Banana. I had no idea she'd been feeling like this until her mom called me and I felt terrible. While sometimes teachers are clearly douchebags, sometimes they're just humans who make insensitive mistakes. It was with that in mind that I commiserated somewhat with the teacher in Sandra Cisneros' short story "Eleven" even though the story is about, and from the perspective of, the student. I'm sure the teacher would agree that it's not her shining moment, but would probably be mortified to learn that she came across as such a villain.

The story has a pretty powerful voice though and Cisnero easily sells the trauma with authenticity. Even a non-eleven year old would likely relate to her feelings of insecurity.

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