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    Eleven Essay

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    “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros, uses many literary devices tocharacterize a complex eleven-year-old. Rachel, theingenuous 1st person narrator, relates the details of herhumiliating eleventh birthday. Although her diction reflectsher age, Rachel conveys the difficulty of growing up withadult precision. She is embarrassed and feels helpless, butknows she will soon be home with her parents, and herterrible day will drift away. Rachel’s age is given away notonly by the title, but by her word choice.

    She employsnumerous similes, describing crying like uncontrollablehiccups, drinking milk to fast, and little animal noises. Herconfidence rattles like “pennies in a tin Band-Aid Box,” andshe is always on the edge of lapsing into another session oftears. However, Rachel’s diction does not simple betray herage. Descriptions like “smells like cottage cheese” areinsights into her true personality. She is passionate andcurious, almost to a fault.

    Because she describes things likerunaway balloons, she is a believable eleven-year-old. Firstperson narration reveals though Rachel’s thoughts are thoseof a typical eleven-year-old her descriptive ability is moremature. Rachel has an uncanny ability to convey her feelings. However, because she is an ingenuous narrator, shesometimes misses the deeper significance of her feelings.

    Although she twice mentions she is looking forward to cake,her birthday song, and normal birthday things, she does notmention she also needs the comfort of her parents. On theother hand, unlike most older, or mature, people, sheunderstands enough about life experience to know she doesnot have enough. Twice she mentions she would like to havethe experience of someone who is one hundred and two. Ateleven Rachel realizes that with experience comesconfidence, personal strength, and most important to her,knowing what to do in hostile situations. As amazing as thosethoughts are, Rachel’s most impressive thought is about age. She understands that people display the characteristics of theages they have passed.

    She understands that although she iseleven, she can still be scared like she is five, or cry like sheis three. What she does not grasp is that people can displaycharacteristics beyond their years. Rachel displays thatadvanced maturity in her thoughts. The only dialogue in thestory is between Rachel and her teacher, Mrs.

    Price. Everyconversation is the same, Mrs. Price does not listen toRachel and dominates their conversations. Rachel associatesbeing right with being older, so she lets Mrs. Price have herway. Mrs.

    Price is so dominating Rachel can respond withwhat she calls her four- year-old voice. She stumbles for areply, eventually saying only, “Not mine, not mine. ” Rachel ishelpless and feels sick inside as she is forced to wear thatsweater. So much emphasis is given to what Rachel isthinking, but the dialogue can show her outward personality. Rachel is non-confrontational, timid, and shy. Racheldesperately wants her terrible day to be over.

    She wants tobe one-hundred and two, because then days like this onewould be far behind. After she is brought to tears andreluctantly she puts on the sweater and even though she didnot have to wear the sweater long, she is changed. Sherealizes facing challenges is at the foundation of experience. Her old self floats away like a balloon. Sandra Cisneros’s”Eleven” uses point of view, diction, dialogue, and symbolismto characterize an eleven year old’s coming of age.

    Theunique characteristics of an eleven- year-old have allowedher to make important discoveries about growing up. Rachelsurvives her humiliation, and becomes smart eleven. Shefeels smart eleven, and a almost a year sooner than usual. Rachel realizes that people are the sum of their experience. She desperately wants to be one hundred and two, butrealizes that her experience adds up to eleven.

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