Essay on Claims by Judith Ortiz

958 Words 4 Pages
Claims by Judith Ortiz

Judith Ortiz Cofer is a Puerto Rican whose writing often examines the conflict and the beauty of cultures mixing together, as people immigrate to America. Though she exhibits a strong connection to her Latin heritage, she often seems to also resent that part of her life. There are many standards and expectations in the Puerto Rican society which Cofer writes to subvert, viewing them negatively. As a Puerto Rican woman, Cofer often disagrees with the limits and expectations placed on a woman in Puerto Rican society, and this attitude is the subject of much of her work. In “Claims,” the speaker describes “Grandmother.” Cofer uses this poem to illustrate a family and describe an individual, as well as
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Examining “Claims” on another lever, one finds messages speaking out against the portrayal of a good woman in Puerto Rican societies. Women are expected to sacrifice every aspect of their own lives for their husbands and children. The Grandmother accepted her role in society, but always had dreams of claiming her own life. “Grandmother” made a promise when she was married, and she kept her promise. She raised five children and led a life committed to a husband who was expected by society to wander. But all along, Grandmother had dreamed of the day when she could secure her freedom. She dreamed of sleeping in her own bed and simply being herself. Her dream is finally realized in old age, as described in the poem. Grandmother “claimed the right” to be herself and live her life. Her days were constantly occupied by caring for her children and her nights were always invaded by her husband’s presence. Now that her family has all moved on, Grandmother has her house and her life for herself. Each right that she has claimed has multiple meanings about her life and society, her dreams and true personality. The first right, that of sleeping alone and owning her nights, describes an internal conflict which Grandmother carried. While she truly loved her family, she yearned for space and freedom. She wanted to control at least some part of her life, but
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