How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

by: Julia Alvarez

The Rudy Elmenhurst Story

Summary The Rudy Elmenhurst Story

Analysis

The roots of Yolanda's problems with American men, from Rudy all the way through to John, relate to the cultural differences between Dominican and American attitudes toward sex and relationships. Her fears of intimacy and sexual experimentation relate to her desires to be appreciated and cherished as a pure and chaste virgin. Though tempted by the mystery and pleasure of sex that Rudy seems to offer, she is also terrified by the disrespect communicated through his crude vocabulary.

Yolanda places such importance on the hidden and subtle meanings of words and language that she is easily offended by what she feels is an inappropriate and crass way of talking about sex. If Rudy had framed sex in terms of poetic romance, she might have given in more easily to his advances. Because he talked about sex using a distinctively American vocabulary, such as "laid," "balled," or "fucked," and used American slang like "69," Yolanda could not relate to his perspective on sex. She cannot think of sex in the same ways that Americans did in the late sixties, as a fun and harmless experience. She continues to see it in many ways as her parents did, as a symbol of a long term and spiritual commitment to another person. Yet the casual attitude that she finds so offensive is what originally attracted her to Rudy in the first place. She feels caught between the Dominican culture she finds too oppressive and the American culture she finds too casual.

The conclusion confirms that Rudy is a selfish and insensitive person, especially after having had some time to possibly mature. Though Yolanda experiments with sex during the years following her relationship with Rudy, she retains her insistence that a lover respect her attitudes toward sex and frame desire within a vocabulary that she finds attractive and respectful. She seems to have overcome some of her insecurities regarding her frigidity, since she sees herself as a wild woman, drinking alcohol and defining the boundaries and characteristics of her sexual relationships.