Tracing the Roots
Angie Cruz notes the importance of staying in touch with one’s cultural heritage. She notes that life can never be complete without a firm belief in one’s roots. This makes it imperative for Soledad to reconnect with her family, even though there are several things she hated about it. According to the story, Soledad had left her home and relatives at the tender age of eighteen because they had been troubling her. She wanted to pursue her comfort outside the family, if that will give her peace of mind. However, she could not sustain the guilt of staying away from her ailing mother. When Soledad is reliably informed of her mother’s situation, she had fallen into an emotional coma, she rushes back to reconnect with the family. This paper investigates the factors that caused her to change her mind and reconnect with her family. In addition, it proposes the ways, through which one can overcome the temptation to abandon one’s roots and culture. It can be said that the search for identity and the desire to bond with her family were some of the reasons, why Soledad came back to join her family.
It is worth noting that one cannot live without a social identity. This stems from the fact that people of a different culture will never really accept you into their culture. Eventually, one will live in a sense of isolation from the world, feeling a lack of social identity. It goes without saying that Soledad did not feel welcome in the foreign land, in spite of the fact that she had fled from home to avoid disturbance. At the time she was leaving home, she was only eighteen and, perhaps, did not understand social dynamics quite well. She often complained about petty fights in her family and unexplained tragedies that kept rocking the family. She imagined that these problems would not exist in a foreign place. In this regard, she set out her plans to escape from home by joining a friend at Cooper Union. Life with her friend offered her a relief from the superstitious environment around her family. However, she would find out that life was not a bed of roses everywhere and that she had to struggle to make ends meet. This is why, when she was called by Gorda to go and see her ailing mother, she did not hesitate. This opportunity certainly provided her with the chance to reconnect with her family and trace her roots. Although she no longer experienced petty fights, there were definitely some other problems that she faced as well. For example, the fact that everyone was different from her and reasoned differently must have caused her a great trouble. It was certainly a source of emotional discomfort that she could not have borne for long. Just like her mother was suffering from emotional coma, she must have been going through the same feeling given that she certainly had some love for her mother and the family (Geertz, page 20).
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Life is the same everywhere and life’s problems are universal in nature. This is the realization that must have awoken the young lady to the fact that she was unnecessarily suffering from emotional detachment from her family. There is no doubt that, staying far away from her family at the age, where she could barely take care of herself financially, presented a great challenge. Although the artistry work must have looked good from the onset, she could not have lived an absolutely good life for the entire period she was separated from her family. Thus, although she was free of disturbance and superstitions in her family, the challenges that she faced were certainly too much to bear. For instance, it must have become obvious to her that she could not run away from leering men and that it was a part of being a woman. Indeed, her short stint away from the family must have made her stronger enough to face challenges in life, especially with respect to men. It must have taught her that quitting can never be a solution to social problems and that one has to stay and fight on. It was, probably, due to this that she did not willingly returned back to her mother because her experience away from home were not worth her life. After all, she still loved her family, in spite of the fact that she did not love a few things about them. Essentially, it should be noted that life is same everywhere and one will never be satisfied with whatever she has. Although one may succeed in avoiding some people in her life, she will definitely meet other people with the same character. This is the reality that must have dawned on the young lady, prompting her to consider coming back to her family (Foucault, page 45).
The love for the family cannot be sacrificed to anything in life. Indeed, it is said that blood is thicker than water. At the time she was making the decision to come back, she must have realized that she could not possibly survive without the love of her family. Thus, although people around her in the new place were not troubling her, they also did not care much about her. As such, she did not really enjoy the social comfort that she had found away from her family. It should be noted that no one else than family member can accord an individual unconditional love. Any other person, who may pretend to do that, may only love for as long as they also stand to benefit. When the benefits cease to exist, they will certainly withdraw their love and proceed with their lives as though they have never loved you. Soledad must have realized this in her short stint away from home. Although people like Flaca behaved badly towards her, preventing her from finding love in Richie, this was not a reason enough to cut links with her family. Indeed, it must have dawned on her that humans are not perfect beings and that they are bound to make mistakes that they can easily correct. In this regard, one should not use a single mistake to make a life-long decision like she did. From the onset, it was obvious that she would not stay away from her family. And if she did, then she would have strained a lot to keep herself happy, trying to forget the fact that her family needed her. This stems from the fact that family love is the only unconditional love, and exists at whatever costs. It will certainly continue pulling people together, even when they thought it was over among them (Jack, page 40).
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The ability to connect and identify with a culture determines people’s personal development. Indeed, Soledad may have found it pretty hard, trying to behave like people of a different culture. This stems from the fact that the cultural practices that she had learned in the past eighteen years of her life would be impossible to erase. Thus, she had to practice her culture in a foreign culture, thereby causing her to feel socially unaccepted. For instance, she was not certain, if she would get married, basing on her culture or on her spouse’s culture; so she was likely to get a man from the different culture. This sense of loneliness must have disturbed her so much. Indeed, she must have thought about, how her problems with relationships had caused her mother a lot of discomfort. She had to literally fight with the feeling that she had betrayed her mother. This was in the sense that she did not stay behind to comfort her, when she really needed her. Instead of showing the same amount of love, she had opted to flee from home to live a comfortable life, when her mother had not known any comfort, since she started experiencing the problems. It was certainly irrational on her part, especially, considering that she was just beginning her adult life and, therefore, expected to live a responsible life. It should be noted that these emotional imbalances could not have allowed Soledad to live a comfortable life. Thus, even after running away from home to get a comfortable life, she could not find the comfort to the extent of settling down in her life, and defining her roles in life. Although she may have succeeded in arts, this was certainly not enough, considering that life is not all about material possessions. She had to find a place for herself in the society so as to be contented that indeed she belonged. Anything short of this was clearly not going to suffice her personal development. This explains, why she did not have a second thought, when she got a call, asking her to go back home. She must have felt that this was a good opportunity to correct the mistakes that she had made earlier in her life. This marked the beginning of her self-renewal and personal development (Cohen, page 24).
Noticeably, the main reason, why Soledad fled from home, was because of her strained relationship with her widowed mother, Olivia. In addition, the story talks much about her aunt Gorda. She believed that Gorda was a witch she should never have been related to. However, what appears quite clearly is the fact that she did not have any particular problem with close members of her family. This makes it look like she was trying to kill a small fly with a wedge hammer, a move that is completely unnecessary. It was not in order to traumatize her close family members by feeing away from home just because of members of the extended family that she could clearly live without. Indeed, it would have a greater sense, if she had asked her immediate family members to free themselves of the extended family, so that they could live a happier life. This would have sounded better that fleeing away from home to uncertain lands to start a new life. This move must have disturbed her personal life as well as that of her family members. For instance, she must have left her normal school environment to start a new life among strangers. Although she had a few friends, this could not suffice the emotional support that she was likely to get from her parents and family members. At some point, she was bound to start feeling that she was forcing herself on other people. Indeed, it was the case given that they had completely different cultures and practices. By accepting to abandon her own culture to embrace another culture was essentially forcing her on strangers, given that she was not certain, what these people thought about her. It is worth noting that her move was not quite strategic and certainly not clearly thought about. It only happened because she decided to act on her emotions rather than wait for the voice of reason (Foucault, page 45).
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Overcoming the Temptation
Decisions that are based on emotions are bound to hurt people to the extent of reversing them altogether. It so appears that Soledad was only disgruntled at the time she made the decision to flee from home. This implies that she did not adequately consider the consequences that her decisions were bound to cause to her life as well as that of her family members. That is why, as soon as she realizes that her mother is severely suffering emotionally, she troops t back to comfort her. It was the best thing she should have done right from the beginning. It is worth noting that emotions often cause people to do things they would not do in their normal lives. It causes them to stop thinking, and only focus on quenching their emotions. Eventually, they end up being the very victims of their actions. It goes without saying that Soledad lost much more than she gained by fleeing from her home. For instance, it was not certain, if her mother would ever fully recover from the mental coma she had suffered from. Indeed, it was not clear if she would still find the guy he had loved. In fact, it is said that happiness is given to those, who fight for it. It does not simply come on a silver plate or follow people to places they have gone. It is quite evident that she would not have got happiness in her new place because no one in this world is perfect. Instead of quitting, she should have struggled to instill some discipline in her relatives, so that they could stop behaving in a manner that was likely to cause her unhappiness. Indeed, she should have been bold enough to face life’s challenges instead of running away from them (Mattox, page 4).
Soledad could have effectively overcome the temptation to run away from her family members, if she had been open enough to share her sentiments with her mother or other close relatives. It goes without saying that her mother would have given her the best advice, especially, considering that her age was quite advanced. Even if they would not have been able to change a few things about her aunts or Olivia, they would have found better ways of dealing with them. It makes little sense to run away from people you can effectively convince to change their ways. And if they are not willing to change, they can be ordered out of the family premises altogether. This is why she ought to have consulted widely before taking such a drastic step. It was better to hurt her aunt by telling her off about her behavior but keep her mother happy by staying behind. It only required a little sobriety and the voice of reason to realize this. However, she could not have thought of this because she was full of emotions. She was consumed with hatred to the extent that she thought that keeping away from everyone, who knew her, was the only option, remaining for her. It should be noted that her problem with emotions would have been solved quite easily, if she had opted to share her misgivings with her mother. Indeed, the fact that she went along well with her mother was a proof enough that she would have been emotionally relieved by simply talking to her. It would have made sense to share and find a solution rather than running away and retaining the problem. This is because even though she was away from the problem, other members of her family would still suffer from the same problem. They would still have aunts, poking into their personal lives, and trying to determine, who they related with. It is very clear that her decision was not helping her or any other person (Geertz, page 20).
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The fact that Soledad rushed into making this wrong decisions depicts the frustrations that people of her culture faced. There was a sense of isolation way before she fled from the place. She was certainly feeling that no one would be able to help her out, even if she shared with them her sentiments. In a way, she must have convinced herself that sharing her predicament with her mother would only cause her more emotional challenges. And so, the only option that she had remaining was to run away and avoid the problems. It is clear that Angie intended to elucidate this in her literature. She intended the reader to connect these frustrations with the probable situation that people of her background must have been going through. Essentially, it pointed to the fact that family bonds were no longer relevant to people, and that critical decisions could be made so hastily. Indeed, the fact that Soledad did not consult anyone before she made the decisions to flee is a clear indicator of dysfunctional social systems. It is clear that this move must have disturbed her personal life as well as that of her family members. For instance, she must have left her normal school environment to start a new life among strangers. Although she had a few friends, this could not suffice the emotional support that she was likely to get from her parents and family members. At some point, she was bound to start feeling that she was forcing herself on other people. This should have been avoided, if social structures, like the family, were still functional (Foucault, page 45).
In conclusion, Angie Cruz notes that life can never be complete without a firm belief in one’s roots. This makes it imperative for Soledad to reconnect with her family even though there are several things she hated about it. It is also worth noting that one cannot live without a social identity. This stems from the fact that people of a different culture will never really accept you into their culture. Eventually, one will live in a sense of isolation from the world, feeling a lack of social identity. It goes without saying that Soledad did not feel welcome in the foreign land in spite of the fact that she had fled from home to avoid disturbance. The ability to connect and identify with one’s culture determines how people handle their personal development. Indeed, Soledad may have found it pretty hard trying to behave like people of a different culture. This stems from the fact that the cultural practices that she had learned in the past eighteen years of her life would be impossible to erase. Thus, she had to practice her culture in a foreign culture, thereby, causing her to feel socially unaccepted. This is why Soledad should not have made her decisions based on emotions because such decisions are bound to hurt people to the extent of reversing them altogether. It so appears that Soledad was only disgruntled at the time she made the decision to flee from home. This implies that she did not adequately consider the consequences that her decisions were bound to cause to her life as well as that of her family members. That is why, as soon as she realizes that her mother is severely suffering emotionally, she troops back to comfort her.
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