A Comparative Analysis of David Sedaris “Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa” and Andrea Roman “We’re Not…”
Andrea Roman’s “We’re Not” on pages 254-257 in The Bedford Reader.
Your final essay should address one of the prompts below. Make sure that your essay has a title, thesis statement, introduction, body paragraphs and appropriate evidence, examples and a conclusion.
Length: 925-1125 words
MLA format; make sure you cite Roman’s essay in the Works Cited page.
In “Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa.” David Sedaris gives a point by point account of his childhood, and his observations during his young adult life while admiring Hugh, his best friend. David is brief but detailed in his description of Hugh and himself in a local slaughterhouse. He has some difficulties with Hugh’s sheltered lifestyle but comes to understand how important these experiences impact both of their lives. They share memories of the slaughterhouse, a field trip to Williamsburg, and enjoy film strips in makeshift theaters. David has a humble accounting of their memories together. Most of David’s thoughts surround Hugh, and his lavish tales were surrounding Hugh, which makes David, envy his dull atmosphere. In “We’re Not…”, by Andrea Roman. Throughout the whole piece, Roman compares the customs of American culture to Bolivian culture. The tone, in the beginning, shows the frustration of Roman to the cultural ways of Bolivia such as not borrowing clothes because “it is an insult to the family…” Roman does not understand why a simple act of kindness from her friend was an insult to her family’s economic well-being. She is also frustrated by her mother’s noncompliance with letting her have a sleepover with her friends solely because “We’re not American, Andrea. We don’t do that in Bolivia.” She embraces these American ideas and culture without forgetting what her mother taught her about Bolivia. She knows that no matter what she does, she is always Bolivian at heart, which is why she hangs both flags on her wall: a simple reminder of who she is, part American and part Bolivian. Meanwhile, childhood and diversity are the two critically important points that identify both these essays.
What were the childhood experiences for both, were their restrictions or a lot of surprises? Childhood is the main topic that explains both essays had the main character experience childhood activities in their life’s or were restricted to change their ways. In the article of “Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa” explains about a kid who lived in Africa that had experienced cool activities that make other children jealous when compared to theirs. In the article “We’re Not…” explains about a girl who is from Bolivia and cannot affiliate with anything American related because her mother will not let here change their traditions. Both these essays talk about a childhood experience, although they were not the same experience, the kid from Africa had freedom and had no restrictions to do anything, for example, he had a field trip to a slaughterhouse and watched pigs get their heads sliced off while blood went all over the visitors. For the girl from Bolivia, who now lives with her mother in America, had less freedom, she could not go to any activities, no American holidays, and was not allowed to be friends with American children. For example, her mother would not let her daughter go to sleep over party or borrow clothes because it offends their foreign traditions.
Diversity is the other main topic that explains both essays have the state of being diverse in foreign traditions. In the article of “Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa” explains a child from America is listening to stories from a child who had cool activities in the country of Africa. In the article of “We’re Not…” explains about a girl who is from Bolivia and tries to be part of American traditions but stopped by her mother. Both these essays are the same as being state of diverse from foreign cultures. For the American boy may be jealous of Hugh’s stories from his childhood in Africa, although he enjoys who he is in the end, to be honest children from Africa would love to have a life in America instead. For the girl from Bolivia and her controlling mother were not always the same in the end, well at least for the little girl, she grew up and accepts to be part Bolivian and American
Both these essays are not the same based upon in story, but they do have minor similarities, although they do have a lot of differences from both and the key important ones that identify the contrast each other is their childhood and one similarity is their diversity. There is a story in everyone no matter where they are from or what race they are, we the people all are the same inside, but our beliefs are not and that is ok. Diversity is the key that makes everyone different and unique in their way based on what path they have chosen in their life. Being different is what makes people unique; not a dull life where everyone agrees on everything or does the same thing every day, like wearing the same clothes or driving the same car.
David Sedaris. “Remembering My Childhood on the Continent of Africa.” The Brief Bedford Reader, N/A, pp. 180-186.
Andrea Roman. “We’re Not…” The Brief Bedford Reader, N/A, pp. 187-192
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Andrea Roman’s “We’re Not”
heard continually from my mother as I grew up. My parents, being immigrants from Bolivia during the eighties, experienced a complete culture clash when they arrived in America. One would think that language would be the biggest barriers for immigrants but in my mother’s case, the biggest obstacles were the small cultural differences. Sooner or later, this became a generic formula for strict rules given by my parents: “We’re not ______, Andrea. Why do you have to ______?” Typically, the first blank was filled in by the word “American,” while the second invariably changed. My mother could not understand that certain unacceptable actions in our
culture were quite acceptable here in the States.
Little did I know, when my mother picked me up from school, I would receive the familiar speech about how embarrassing my act had been.
mother’s mouth. Not a breath, not an intake of air, just these words in a ridiculing tone: “Who’s sweater is that?!” I remained clueless and answered the question, simply, “Emily’s . . .”
Immediately after my answer, my mother gave me one of the longest speeches I have ever heard. “We’re not poor, Andrea. Why do you have to borrow clothes? I buy you clothes. You have sweaters. You wore one this morning!” I could not grasp the magnitude of my mother’s anger or disturbance as I did not see what the big deal was in borrowing a sweater. Kids in my class did it all the time without any problem. They’d borrow a sweater one day and give it back the other. It
was as simple as that – but not to my mother. “In Bolivia,” my mother said, “we do not borrow clothes from other people. It is seen as an insult to the family in saying that we cannot afford to take care of our family. It’s a want of an unnecessary thing seeing as you already have your own.” The speech went on and on, usually repeating the same points, until I finally got a word in: “I stained my sweater. I had nothing to wear and was cold. I just don’t see why it’s such a big deal.” Boy, was that a mistake. Talking back to my mother was the worst thing I could have done. The second I got home I got a good deep mouth washing with dishwasher soap as punishment.
my mother’s response was always, “Why . .”
“Mmm then no.”
And just like that my attempt to go to a sleepover would end.
“We’re not American, Andrea. We don’t do that in Bolivia. Everyone has their own
house for a reason. If you want to go over to Caroline’s your father will gladly take you and pick you up later tonight, but don’t try to convince him to stay over because it just won’t work.”
I suppose my mother letting me go to Caroline’s for some time was better than nothing, yet I always longed for that sleepover. Growing up, I quickly learned that what my mother said was the rule in the household. After several attempts to attend a sleepover, I gave up – not because I didn’t want to sleepover, but because I began to understand why my mother didn’t want me to stay over.
Sunday, 1:00 PM. My family is just getting out of church and deciding where to go for
lunch, when all of a sudden I remember that a six page paper is due in class on Monday. I assume I had a stunned look on my face, because my mother asked what was wrong.
“Oh nothing . . . I just remembered that I had an essay due tomorrow, so I’ll probably
have to start working on that rather soon, if that influences our lunch decision”
“You mean to say that you left all your homework due Monday to do today?”
“Yeah . . .”
“Why would you do that? Don’t you know Sunday is family day? A day to worship God
and be thankful for family?”
“Yes . . .”
“Ok then so you don’t have any work due tomorrow right?”
“No Mami, I just said I have an essay due.”
“Sundays are not the day to leave homework for. That’s why you get Friday and
Saturday. You have two days to complete it; there is no reason why you need Sunday, too.”
Geesh. My mother sure did accumulate rules over the years.
“Ok, Mami, but I really have to do this essay now.”
“Well you should have thought of that sooner, no?”
Silence overtook the car on our way home and I could feel the disappointment on my
my conservative cultural position would have to become more open-minded. I knew that not everyone had grown up with strict Bolivian parents, as I had. I would not have to lose my cultural identity, however.
As I lay in my new bed for the very first time in an unfamiliar room filled with familiar
things, I started to ask myself the same question that my hall mates confronted me with: “Why do you have such a big American flag?” This question constantly arose when I met someone.
Why did I have an American flag next to my Bolivian one? My mother instilled Bolivian values in me; Bolivian culture was the only thing I had ever been exposed to, and I loved it. I had just bought this American flag a week before move-in day for my room decorations.
Through my mother’s multiple rules, I had become comfortable enough with my identity and culture that showing pride in another country would not take away from my heritage. I now borrow clothes, have sleepovers, and do a ton of work on Sundays, but I have not left behind that little Bolivian girl who received the mouth-washing with dishwasher soap, no matter what flag hangs on my wall.