Judith Ortiz Cofer wrote many stories about the experience of Puerto Rican immigrants trying to balance mainland American and Hispanic identities.
The story: The loss of her son in Vietnam torments a Puerto Rican immigrant mother, her extended family, and her entire community.
Characters: an unnamed first-person woman narrator. Dona Ernestina, a woman who learns her son Tony has been killed in Vietnam. A priest named Padre Alvaro.
Themes: Impact of war on families, grieving, honoring fallen soldiers
- What about Dona Ernestina’s grief is peculiar to her? What is rooted in her Puerto Rican identity? What is universal?
- How effective is religion and Padre Alvaro in providing solace to Padre Alvaro?
- How is Tony’s death a collective experienced for everyone in “El Building”?
For further exploration, watch this video of Judith Ortiz Cofer on balancing mainland American and Puerto Rican identities:
Find “Nada” here: