What Is the Main Conflict of American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer?

American History is a thought-provoking short story by Judith Ortiz Cofer that explores the themes of racism, prejudice, and identity. The story revolves around Elena, a young Puerto Rican girl, who moves to the United States with her family and faces discrimination from her classmates due to her ethnicity. Throughout the story, Cofer presents a conflict between two cultures and their struggles to coexist.

The Main Conflict in American History
The main conflict in American History revolves around cultural identity. Elena is struggling to find her place in American society as she is constantly reminded of her differences.

Her classmates make fun of her accent and assume she cannot speak English properly. This makes Elena feel embarrassed and ashamed of her heritage.

On the other hand, Elena’s mother is proud of their Puerto Rican roots and encourages Elena to embrace it. However, this clash of identities puts a strain on their relationship as Elena feels torn between her desire to fit in with American culture and her loyalty towards her heritage.

The Role of Racism
Racism plays a significant role in the story as it fuels the conflict between the two cultures. Elena’s classmates believe that being Puerto Rican makes her inferior, which leads them to mistreat and insult her. This discrimination takes a toll on Elena’s self-esteem and causes her to doubt herself.

The school’s history teacher also contributes to this conflict by promoting biased views about Puerto Ricans. His class lesson about Columbus Day portrays Puerto Ricans as lazy and uneducated people who have nothing significant to contribute to society.

The Importance of Acceptance

Throughout the story, Cofer highlights the importance of acceptance for cultural diversity. The lack of understanding between cultures leads to misunderstandings, fear, and hatred. In contrast, accepting others for who they are can lead to tolerance, respect, and appreciation for different perspectives.

Elena learns this lesson towards the end of the story when she realizes that her culture is unique and valuable. She becomes proud of her heritage and starts to embrace it, which improves her relationship with her mother.

The Significance of the Title

The title of the story, American History, is ironic as it implies that only one culture’s perspective is considered significant. However, the story challenges this notion by presenting the struggles of a minority culture in America. Cofer’s use of this title highlights the need for inclusivity in American history and the recognition of minority cultures’ contributions.

  • In Conclusion, American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer explores the conflict between two cultures and their struggle to coexist in American society. The story highlights the effects of racism on cultural identity and emphasizes the importance of acceptance for cultural diversity. The title serves as a reminder to include minority perspectives in American history.

In conclusion, American History is a powerful story that sheds light on the struggles faced by minorities in America. The conflict between two cultures and their struggle to coexist is a timeless theme that resonates even today. By using elements such as bold text, underlined text, lists, subheaders, this article has aimed to make this complex topic more engaging and thought-provoking for readers.