Why Do You Think Cofer Decided to Name Her Story American History?

When it comes to literary works, the title can often be just as important as the content. In Judith Ortiz Cofer’s short story “American History,” the title serves as a powerful statement about identity and the American experience. But why did Cofer choose this particular title for her story?

The Significance of the Title

At first glance, the title “American History” seems like a simple descriptor of the subject matter. The story is set in America, after all, and it touches on themes that are often associated with American history, such as colonialism and race relations.

However, there is more to this title than meets the eye. By calling her work “American History,” Cofer is making a bold statement about what constitutes history and who gets to tell it. Throughout the story, we see how different characters have different perspectives on what events are important and how they should be remembered.

For example, Elena’s teacher insists that Columbus “discovered” America, while Elena herself points out that this erases the experiences of Native Americans who were already living there. Similarly, Eugene believes that his ancestors were heroic explorers who brought civilization to an uncivilized land, while Elena sees them as invaders who committed atrocities against indigenous peoples.

By using a broad title like “American History,” Cofer invites us to think critically about whose stories are typically told in history books and whose are left out. She challenges us to consider how our understanding of history is shaped by our own experiences and biases.

The Power of Language

Another reason why Cofer may have chosen this particular title is because of its association with power and authority. Throughout history, those in positions of power have often been responsible for shaping our collective understanding of what happened in the past.

Language plays a key role in this process. By choosing which words to use (and which ones to avoid), those in power can shape narratives to fit their own agendas. For example, calling something a “discovery” rather than an “invasion” can change how we view the actions of historical figures.

By using a title like “American History,” Cofer is tapping into this association between language and power. She is highlighting the fact that those who control the narrative of history also control how we view ourselves and our place in the world.

  • Conclusion

In conclusion, Judith Ortiz Cofer’s decision to name her story “American History” was not accidental. By using this broad title, she invites readers to think critically about what constitutes history and whose perspectives are typically included (or excluded). She also highlights the power of language in shaping our understanding of the past.

Through her powerful storytelling and thought-provoking title, Cofer challenges us to consider how our own experiences and biases shape our understanding of the world around us. It’s a message that is just as relevant today as it was when she wrote the story over 30 years ago.