Straw Into Gold Essays

First, let's begin with the full title of Sandra Cisneros' essay:  "Straw into Gold:  The Metamorphosis of the Everyday Literary Analysis."  Even though it is not usual to include a "summary" for an essay, I am happy to do so.

This essay is about how culture can command certain assumptions.  Because Sandra is Mexican, there are certain things that are assumed about her.  Sandra is invited to a meal and realizes quite quickly that she...

First, let's begin with the full title of Sandra Cisneros' essay:  "Straw into Gold:  The Metamorphosis of the Everyday Literary Analysis."  Even though it is not usual to include a "summary" for an essay, I am happy to do so.

This essay is about how culture can command certain assumptions.  Because Sandra is Mexican, there are certain things that are assumed about her.  Sandra is invited to a meal and realizes quite quickly that she is supposed to be the one cooking tortillas because she is Mexican.

What I didn’t realize when they made this invitation was that I was supposed to be involved in preparing the meal. I guess they assumed I knew how to cook Mexican food because I am Mexican. They wanted specifically tortillas, though I’d never made a tortilla in my life.

To Sandra's surprise, she IS able to make tortillas!  This ability translates into other abilities in Sandra's life.  She says:

I’ve managed to do a lot of things in my life I didn’t think I was capable of and which many others didn’t think I was capable of either.

Sandra has been able to turn "straw into gold" (hence the title of her essay) by actually CHANGING the perceptions of her culture.  As a result, she challenges individuals to see cultures, and especially the Mexican culture, differently.  In this way, Sandra has been able overcome some pretty difficult obstacles:  poverty, doubt, fear, and migrant expectations. In this way "straw" in regards to what could be seen as the worst aspects of being associated with a culture has been turned into "gold," what can be seen as a great benefit.

When one reads the title "Straw Into Gold," the story, "Rumpelstiltskin" might come to mind, where a maid was given the task of spinning straw into gold. Even though that task sounded insurmountable, she succeeded. The same is true with the life of Sandra Cisneros. She survived some seemingly impossible roadblocks on her way to becoming a writer. However, she persevered and became very successful in her quest.

Personal essays are usually quite short in length, and are nonfiction. The tone of the essay is informal and quite intimate, usually in first person, and the writer often shares personal details to make a point. Here, Cisneros speaks of poverty, growing up as a Latina and the difficulties she encountered. There is also a prominent analogy of comparing the writer's life to the story "Rumpelstiltskin." Analogies can be quite powerful, especially when used to compare something that might be unfamiliar to a topic with which readers are more comfortable.

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