What Is American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer is a poignant and thought-provoking short story that delves into the complexities of race, gender, and class in America. Through the eyes of a young Puerto Rican girl, the story exposes the harsh realities of prejudice and discrimination that exist even in the land of opportunity.

The Plot

The story is set in the 1960s, during a time when racial tensions were high in America. The protagonist is a young Puerto Rican girl who has just moved to Paterson, New Jersey with her family. She finds herself struggling to fit into her new surroundings and is constantly reminded of her outsider status.

One day at school, she is assigned to give a speech on American history. While researching for her speech, she realizes that the history books she has been given only tell one side of the story – that of white Americans. She becomes disillusioned with the idea of America as a land of equal opportunity and begins to question her place in society.

The climax of the story comes when the protagonist’s father is mistaken for a thief by a white woman in their apartment building. The incident highlights the deep-rooted prejudices that exist in American society and leaves the protagonist feeling even more isolated than before.

The Themes

American History deals with several themes that are relevant even today. One of these themes is racism – both overt and covert. The story highlights how people are judged based on their skin color and how this can lead to unfair treatment.

Another theme explored in American History is cultural identity. The protagonist struggles to reconcile her Puerto Rican heritage with her new life in America. She feels torn between two worlds – one where she is accepted for who she is and another where she is seen as an outsider.

The Writing Style

Judith Ortiz Cofer’s writing style in American History is simple yet evocative. She uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the protagonist’s surroundings and emotions. The story is written in the first person, which allows the reader to empathize with the protagonist and experience her struggles firsthand.

The Verdict

American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer is a powerful short story that sheds light on some of the most pressing issues of our time. It is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding race relations in America and how they impact individuals on a personal level.

  • Pros: Thought-provoking, relevant, well-written
  • Cons: None

Closing Thoughts

In conclusion, American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer is a timeless piece of literature that continues to resonate with readers today. Through her poignant storytelling and insightful commentary, Cofer invites us to question our own assumptions and prejudices and to strive for a more just and equitable society.