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Stephanie Brown

on 20 March 2014

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Transcript of Barbie-Q

Materialism plays a role in two separate ways in this story. Two different types of materialism are shown when the girls decide that they would rather have new outfits for their current Barbie dolls rather than have a new Ken doll.
"Because we don't have money for a stupid-looking boy doll when we'd both rather ask for a new Barbie outfit next Christmas. We have to make do with your mean-eyed Barbie and my bubblehead Barbie and our one outfit apiece not including the sock dress." (the 2nd paragraph)
Economic Status
The Author - Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros (pictured right) is viewed as a key figure in "chicana literature." Her works focus on identity and feminism of Mexican-American women through her own experiences as a Mexican-American woman.
by Sandra Cisneros

Main Themes
Identity- societal expectations vs. reality
Materialism- gratefulness
Economic Status- affordability
"Your Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, and my Barbie's boyfriend comes over and your Barbie steals him, okay? Kiss kiss kiss. Then the two Barbies fight. You dumbbell! He's mine. Oh no he's not, you stinky! Only Ken's invisible, right? Because we don't have money for a stupid-looking boy doll when we'd both rather ask for a new Barbie outfit next Christmas."
In Short...
"Barbie-Q" is a short story of Cisneros' featured in her collection of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek(pictured left). This compilation focuses on the issues chicana women and almost all women in general deal with.
"Barbie-Q" starts by introducing two little girls who have one simple desire - Barbie dolls. However, they know that they cannot have them until Christmas time when they can ask for them. Why? Well, they know that their parents will not be able to buy them these toys because of the costs. After describing the preferences relating to Barbies, the narrator moves onto the flea market scene. The girls are walking through the market and they see all of these damaged dolls being sold at extremely low prices. The dolls are burnt and water-logged from a factory fire that happened in their town. These dolls are perfect to the little girls, so they are able to get them and have them long before Christmas time. An explanation of why these dolls are perfect is how the short story is wrapped up.
"Barbie-Q" focuses on the two girls establishing themselves as being comfortable with what they have by rejecting the commonly accepted definition of identity. They don't need what society defines as perfection to be happy and content with what they have. They also show that even though the girls don't need perfect, shiny, new Barbie dolls , they still know what the newest and latest Barbie dolls feature. This shows that the little girls still maintain their gender identities as feminine.
"Bendable Legs Barbie with her new page-boy hairdo. Midge, Barbie's best friend. Ken, Barbie's boyfriend. Skipper, Bar­bie's little sister. Tutti and Todd, Barbie and Skipper's tiny twin sister and brother. Skipper's friends, Scooter and Ricky. Alan, Ken's buddy. And Francie, Barbie's MOD'ern cousin."
But, in the end we find out that the girls aren't too materialistic because they are perfectly happy having Barbie dolls that are a bit damaged - just as long as they can have their Barbie dolls. The girls find ways to mask their flaws.
The overall theme of materialism in this story is used by the author, Sandra Cisneros, to show validity behind the saying that "not everything is as it seems." She uses the text to insinuate that just because someone or something looks normal, even fantastic, on the outside, it does not necessarily mean they are that way on the inside.
One of the most obvious themes in the story is that of economic status or class. The whole story is based off of the fact that the girls want the new Barbie toys, but they have to wait until Christmas to ask for them because their caretakers will not be able to afford them right away. This relates to materialism because the girls probably wouldn't value what they have as much if they were able to afford the newest toys all the time. This also plays into the theme of identity because their economic status defines part of their identity due to the the nurture factor of childhood.
"So what if we didn't get our new Bendable Legs Barbie and Midge and Ken and Skipper and Tutti and Todd and Scooter and Ricky and Alan and Francie in nice clean boxes and had to buy them on Maxwell Street, all water-soaked and sooty. So what if our Barbies smell like smoke when you hold them up to your nose even after you wash and wash and wash them. And if the prettiest doll, Barbie's MOD'ern cousin Francie with real eyelashes, eyelash brush included, has a left foot that's melted a little-so? If you dress her in her new "Prom Pinks" outfit, satin splendor with matching coat, gold belt, clutch, and hair bow included, so long as you don't lift her dress, right?-who's to know ." (the last paragraph)
"Because we don't have money for a stupid-looking boy doll when we'd both rather ask for a new Barbie outfit next Christmas." (2nd paragraph)
"How much? Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, until they say okay." (end of 3rd paragraph)
Discussion Questions
What is the irony presented in "Barbie-Q" with relation to the girls' values?
Furthermore, how does feminism play a subliminal, but very important, role in this story?
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