Read the original "My Name" passage by Sandra Cisneros. Annotate. Note organization, (summarize each brief paragraph) note use of vivid imagery and emotional content rescued from abstraction by means of such imagery.
Read the "My Name" sample written by Michael. Note how closely he follows the original.
Write your own.
In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.
It was my great-grandmother's name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse--which is supposed to be bad luck if you're born female-but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don't like their women strong.
My great-grandmother. I would've liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn't marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That's the way he did it.
And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn't be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window.
At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister's name Magdalena--which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least- -can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza.
I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.
From House on Mango Street
My Name (modeled after Sandra Cisneros)
My name comes from the Bible. My mom explained to me that it was the name of an angel. Michael, it seems, was not just an ordinary angel, but an archangel. If Jesus sits at the right hand of God, she said, then the archangels probably sit at the right hand of Jesus. My name doesn’t feel like any of that religious stuff, though. It feels more like sitting on the toolbox in the garage and getting up to pass tools to my father when he sticks his left hand out from under the car.
It was my grandfather’s name and now it’s mine. He was an Orange County sheriff’s deputy who had played football for Santa Ana High School. On the wall in my dad’s office there is a newspaper clipping from the 1930’s that describes my grandfather as “the biggest high school football player in the country.” He was a big guy. But still. People must have been smaller back then.
I wish the heart in his big old body had not quit when I was so young. I wish I could have talked to him more. Or listened. He used to sit in his creaky old chair and smoke his pipe. He didn’t talk much and he put ketchup on his fried eggs.
My grandma used to say that we needed to pray for him. He put up with that most of the time but my dad says comments like that made him want to go to the lodge more often. My mom says the same thing about me to my brother and sister. Or she did before she died. If Grandpa Mike were still alive, we could sit on the porch and I think we’d understand each other without saying much at all.
At first only my family called me Michael; everybody else called me Mike. Then I had this girlfriend. It felt pretty good to hear her say Michael this and Michael that. The way she said it. Before long I started signing my name Michael instead of Mike. My brother, I call him Steven, still goes by Steve, but now almost everybody calls me Michael.
My mom’s name was Ilene. When she died in July, on the day before her birthday, I didn’t want to hear anybody but my brother or my sister or my father say my name for a few days. It felt like the sound of my name had been bent or broken. And somehow, now, I don’t seem to care too much any more if people call me Michael or Mike.