Samples for 1995 Prose: “Eleven”
Sample Essay 1:
Sandra Cisneros’ Rachel is very wise for a girl of only eleven, even though Rachel herself might disagree. The fact that the story is titled Eleven and the repetition of her age throughout the story do not sufficiently combat the feeling the reader gets that Rachel is much older and wiser than her years. The author’s choice of narrator, language and images and concepts all work together to make Rachel a well-developed character.
The story of Rachel’s eleventh birthday is told to us in the first person, by Rachel herself. Who better to tell us how it feels to be eleven? The reader does not feel as if anything has been missed because they don’t know Mrs. Price’s side of the story, or Phyllis Lopez’s. By using the first person, Cisneros is able to show us the wise, introspective nature of a girl like Rachel. First person narration seems somehow more appropriate to younger characters—Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is also told in the first person by a youth wise for his years. By using Rachel as a narrator, we can hear her thoughts as to what it feels like when you’re eleven and there’s no difference from how it felt to be ten. She understands something that few adults can grasp—that we don’t always have to act our age, because somewhere inside of us is someone younger, a former self that does not know any better. Rachel can characterize her emotions as being a certain age: when you want to sit on mom’s lap because you’re scared you’re acting five, but in order to talk back to the teacher you need to be one hundred and two. Only through first person narration do we know how upset Rachel is by the sweater incident, she tells at the end that “I wish I was anything but eleven, because I want to be far away from today already...” We can hear her singsong thoughts, the repetition in her mind of what she wants to say: “Not mine, not mine, not mine.” Through Rachel’s senses we learn how the sweater...