A Giant Step The characters from the stories Se Habla Espanol and A Giant Step face struggles with racial issues and personal difficulties. They find a true aspect of significance in each of their stories. Barrientos realizes that her heritage is an important factor to who she is. The boy realizes his shoes got him many places through the years, and they signify loyalty to his handicapped situation. Both characters focus on their appreciation and the meaning of their experiences. In both stories, a meaningful past is something that they have in common.
These characters’ struggles help them succeed in becoming stronger individuals. In Se Habla Espanol, the past is misunderstood because Barrientos came from a Spanish background but was raised to speak nothing but English. Her narrative states, “College-educated and seamlessly bilingual when they settled in west Texas, my parents (a psychology professor and an artist) wholeheartedly embraced the notion of the American melting pot. They declared that their two children would speak nothing but ingles (Barrientos 560). ” In A Giant Step, the past is feared because the boy went through many surgeries in hopes of being able to walk normally again.
Gates memoir states, “I limped through the next decade- through Yale and Cambridge… as far away as Piedmont as I could get. But I couldn’t escape the pain, which increased as the joint calcified and began to fuse over the next 15 years (Gates 834). ” Overcoming the racial issues of the past is what helped Barrientos write her story. For Tanya Barrientos, life was complicated. She moved to the United States in 1963 at the age of three with her family who immediately stopped speaking Spanish. Her family embraced American society.
As she states, “People who were considered Mexican- Americans or Afro-Americans were considered dangerous radicals, while law- abiding citizens were expected to drop their cultural baggage at the border and leave any lingering traits (Barrientos 561). ” Society viewed Spanish people as a poor individuals, table waiters, or housekeepers. Barrientos said, “It meant being left off the cheerleading squad and receiving a condescending smile from the guidance counselor when she said she planned on becoming a doctor or a lawyer (Barrientos561)”. She thought by staying away from Spanish people, the stereotypes would stay away from her.
Over time, society completely changed and no longer looked at one type of ethnicity. At this point, Tanya began to wonder where she fit. When asked a question in Spanish, she could only answer in English. Tanya wanted to take pride in her Latina heritage but she could not because she felt it was a lie. She set out to learn the language everyone assumed she already knew. She basically had to start all over but finally realized that her heritage is an important part of her life, and there are probably many others going through the same thing she went through.
In the end she says, “She wished everyone had the courage to come out of their hiding places and take pride in where they came from no matter the situation (Barrientos 563). ” Also, overcoming personal difficulties of the past is what helped the boy write his story. In the story A Giant Step, the boy faced a majorwas a colored, 14-year-old freshman who started playing football, learning tennis, and began dating. A major tragedy affected the boy’s life in many ways. The ball-and-socket-joint of his hip sheared apart due to a recent injury.
The surgeon tells him it was a torn ligament and put him in a walking cast. As the surgeon stood the boy on his feet and insisted that he should try to walk, the joint ripped apart again, and the boy fell on the floor. The doctor told his mother he had overstrained his natural capacity. In one year he had three surgeries. After the last operation and over the next fifteen years, his leg grew shorter, his muscles weakened, and the ball-and-socket joint migrated into his pelvis. He says, “Most frustrating was passing store windows full of fine shoes.
I used to dream of walking into one of those stores and buying a pair of shoes (Gates 834). ” After the boy finally accepted the situation, the doctors decided it was time for one last surgery at his age of 40. A day later, the nurses stand him up and help him into a walker and his wife burst into tears because his feet were touching the ground. The surgeon says, “Get a pair of Dock Sides; they have a secure grip. You’ll need a ? -inch life in the heel, which can be as discreet as you want (Gates 835). ” As he walks, he takes a look at the “bricks” and realizes they have walked long miles together.
The boy states firmly, “I feel disloyal, as if I am abandoning an old friend (Gates 836). ” Both stories have major differences such as society’s issues concerning race, the meaning, and the difficult situations. One thing they both share is major significance. For Se Habla Espanol, the significance is teaching others to not follow the line of others and be an individual. For example, Tanya being determined to learn Spanish despite the fact she had to basically start all over. For A Giant Step, the significance is teaching others to never give up and make the best out of bad situations.
Also, an example would be his hope that one day an operation would work despite the fact he was 40 when it actually did. Trials are always occurring whether the situation has to do with ethnicity or hardships. Hope and determination are two key factors in both stories that keep the characters going. Over all, as readers we can conclude that past events take toll on people’s lives every day whether it is positive or negative feedback. Gradually, we learn to appreciate the many challenges and influences we face because it teaches us useful lessons. In life, accepting things that are not always easy lead us to finding the answer.