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"grandma" Short Analysis

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In Gerald Haslam’s short story “Grandma,” the relationship between having pride in one’s cultural heritage and assimilation into the culture of the status quo is illustrated by his inclusion of Spanish in addition to the English spoken by most of the other characters. This can also be evidenced by Grandma’s use of Spanish and then English as well as the narrator’s decision to intersperse Spanish words into the English used to tell the story. Grandma’s application of Spanish also serves as a contrast to the other characters’ usage of English only, despite signs that the narrator’s mother can at very least understand Spanish.

Grandma’s decision to speak only in Spanish eventually softens so that she speaks English with her family members that understand English most readily, displaying her gradual acceptance of the white culture. At the beginning of the story, the narrator’s home in Oilsdale is the first and most logical place for Grandma, yet she is hesitant and “unimpressed with Daddy, whom she called ‘ese gringo’”; this shows her initial disdain towards living in such close quarters with a “gringo” (21). It is almost as if she was so proud of her Spanish heritage that she refused any other culture. Also, her first few encounters with the narrator are marked with Spanish only speech, yet towards the middle of the story, she reveals that she can speak English, which is at first met with astonishment and indignation by the narrator; thereafter, she is considerably kinder to the boy. She becomes progressively more and more accustomed to, and even begins to enjoy the company of “gringos.” This development is further accented when she begins calling “ese gringo” “Sharlie” instead (21, 30). She builds a rapport with him, eventually joking around with him, even sharing wine before dinner (15, 30). Furthermore, she stops referring to the narrator as “el malcriado,” or badly behaved, and begins to compliment him, telling his mother that he is “muy inteligente” (12, 30).

The narrator gains greater appreciation of his cultural heritage largely due to the presence of his grandmother which is shown in subtle ways. At the beginning of the story, his horny toad is named John, but the second time he

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