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The Changeling by Judith Ortiz Cofer

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by

Johnna Arthur

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of The Changeling by Judith Ortiz Cofer

The Changeling by Judith Ortiz Cofer
Poem: "The Changeling"
Strutting around the room,
I'd tell of life in the mountains,
of carnage and rivers of blood,
and of manly feasts with rum and music
to celebrate victories para la libertad.
He would listen with a smile
to my tales of battles and brotherhood
until Mother called us to dinner.

She was not amused
by my transformations, sternly forbidding me
from sitting down with them as a man.
She'd order me back to the dark cubicle
that smelled of adventure, to shed
my costume, to braid my hair furiously
with blind hands, and to return invisible,
as myself,
to the real world of her kitchen.


My Thoughts:
I believe the poem is about a young girl who is torn between her desire for her father's attention and the feminist expectations of her mother. Although, her father may think her skits are humorous at the time, he will never take her seriously. I also believe that her parents feel as though a girl's place is in the kitchen, meanwhile men are allowed to experience battles and tell stories; therefore, the young girl rebels through her skits and costumes.
Historical/Cultural Content
-Feminism
-Puerto Rican Culture

Judith Ortiz Cofer
-Born: Feb. 24, 1952 in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico
-Moved to Paterson, NJ with he family in 1956
-moved to Augusta, GA in 1967
-Attended Butler High School
-Graduated from Augusta College & Florida Atlantic University
Literary Genres: Poetry, Short Stories, Autobiography, Essays, & Young Adult Fiction
-Inspired by he Grandmother
-Frequently absent military father
-1984: Started teaching at UGA
-Awards: Pura Belpre Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
-1994: O'Henry Prize
As a young girl
vying for my father's attention,
I invented a game that made him look up
from his reading and shake his head
as if both baffled and amused.

In my brother's closet, I'd change
into his dungarees -- the rough material
molding me into boy shape; hide
my long hair under an army helmet
he'd been given by Father, and emerge
transformed into the legendary Ché
of grown-up talk.

Poem Analysis:
-Stanza 1: When the reader was a young girl, she desired her father's attention, so she made up a game that drew his attention.

-Stanza 2: She would dress up in clothes from her brother's closet, and hide her feminine features as well as she could. She wanted to look like a boy.

-Stanza 3: She would dance around the room telling war stories, and stories that only "men" would talk about, until her mother would call them for dinner. Her stories made her dad smile.

-Stanza 4: Her mother did not like her dressing up as a boy and would always get onto her for siting at the table in her costume. Her mother would demand her to change into her "girl" clothes and would braid her hair and order her back to the kitchen.
-Line 11: "Che"; Ernesto Che Guevara, Cuban Revolutionary Leader.
-Line 17: "Para la libertad"; for freedom(spanish)

YouTube Video:
Cited:
Doyle, Jacqueline. "Thinking Back Through Her Mothers: Judith Ortiz Cofer And Virginia Woolf." Woolf
Studies Annual 15. (2009): 91-111.HUmanities International Completes. Web. 5 Nov. 2013.
Full transcript