Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Asynchronous Blog Post on Clap When You Land (Pages 321-417)

ASYNCHRONOUS BLOG POST Deadline: 10/25 before the class.

Instructions:

In the comment section down below answer ONE of the following prompts (2oo-word minimum).

OPTION ONE

Discuss the development and complexity of Camino and Yahaira’s relationship during their days together in the Dominican Republic.

OPTION TWO

Reflect on the topics down below and elaborate on how the author, Elizabeth Acevedo, approach (ONE of) them in this third section of the novel:

.Camino’s search for reparations

.Yahaira’s immersion in the Dominican culture

.Zoila (Yahaira’s mother) emotional transformation

.Funerary/ spiritual rites

OPTION THREE

The final confrontation with El Cero generates an alliance of all the women in the story. Examine the strengths of each character and their distinct defense against masculinist violence.

OPTION FOUR

Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their arguments and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about these pages (321-417) from Clap When You Land do you want to bring into the discussion?

22 thoughts on “Asynchronous Blog Post on Clap When You Land (Pages 321-417)”

  1. Option 3)
    Starting from page 386, in” Clap When You Land”, we notice a shift in the atmosphere and behavior of the characters notably the female characters. El Cero, the reputable and renowned pimp of Sosua, has found a victim and this time, it his a bit too close to home. In a dispute about Camino’s secret stash of cash and US passport in her hand, El Cero becomes enrage when Camino mentions his sister” I don’t know what converted you into this monster. But I bet your sister is turning in her grave”(p377). A clear shot at El Cerro’s character, El Cerro begins to violently assault Camino all while she is on the ground, seemingly suffering from a twisted ankle. El Cerro is met however with not only the bravery of Camino on the floor but of Tia Solana, Yahaira’s mother and Yahaira. Tia Solana brings with her cavalry of saints as she prays as well as huge machete. Tia Solana brings in old traditions, customs and spiritually while Yahaira’s mothers come into the battle with new technology, “nothing but her cellphone(…)”(p387). However, despite not carrying any physical weapon, she does bring authority through her disposition and stance” But you would think she was armed to the teeth the way she pulls her shoulders back(…) you see she is a general’s daughter.(p387). She takes a stance for Camino and asserts that ” This girl does not exist for you anymore.”(p387). We are normally introduced to a Zoila who is sad, depressed, and never full present however this time she is displaying strength and certitude. Yahaira’s bravery led the three to Camino, she also becomes an object of comfort to her sister. All three display bravery as Yahaira says ” We stand for her(…) We will protect Camino at all cost, We will protect one another”. This quote reflects the sisterhood and women empowerment sentiments that had bound all three together in the face of violence. All three through their own methods take a stand against a well-known predator and for the first time find resolution amongst themselves as two different families of Papi.

    1. That was definitely an extremely exciting climax to mark the finale of this story. It was almost an Avenger-like moment. You know, when the heroes show up in a heroic pose right at the nick of time. That was a funny image I had, but instead of Tony Stark or the Hulk it is a bunch of menacing Dominican moms. If I was El Cero, I would take my chances with the Hulk. On a more serious note, I like what you pointed out about the weapons that the three women weld. Weapons that are not necessarily physical but powerful nonetheless. And unlike the methods El Cero uses, they are weapons not meant to cause harm but to protect those they love. That was a great point that I don’t think many people, including me, picked up on when we first read it. So it was something interesting to think about and contextualize the scene with. These few poems also bring the worlds we have so far seen as separate even closer together. Especially after how they threatened to fall apart alongside the sisters if the passport situation ever resolved. Overall, I’m happy that the story ended so happily after all the struggles we’ve seen overcome.

      1. I completely agree. It’s something you could foreshadow but mot necessarily, I don’t know if that makes sense but none the less very climatic. Also, it is so funny how much we could relate and actually emphasize the mom’s powerful tools. Like any other mom those tools are always used and showed in events where they have to stand up and defend their loved ones. Like Qikai stated, they’re not meant to harm or dramatically hurt anyone but they’re used as a weapon to protect the ones they most love in any circumstances and they are in fact extremely potential. Just like Qikai I myself also didn’t pick up the point but I’m glad that it was brought up because it allows us to understand even more the climax even after we had already finished the reading. As of in the threat, I know that regardless anything that could happen the sisters will not once again allow any situation to separate them and threaten their coexistence. They will find a away to solve the pasaaport issue and they will continue to interact with one another and work on getting to know each other. I’m very content with the finale because of everything they were able to overcome and situate. They had a happy ever after, after all.

    2. In the face of violence, three women, Yahaira, her mother, and Tia Solana, showcase the power of unity and are a symbol of bravery in the novel. Women empowerment is a theme present in this encounter because it is symbolized by the different personalities of the three women when they are confronted by violence (Acevedo).

  2. In this final section of the novel we are introduced to a new side of Camino that is not like the courteous well-mannered girl we know. She treats Yahaira with respect and suppresses her feelings of wanting to lash out on her and her mother but at times she behaves in a way that is just angry over the things/life her sister has. It all stems back to Yahaira’s belief that she deserves reparations considering she lives in the impoverished homeland and she still wasn’t left a dime. Elizabeth Acevedo writes how the two girls act, but also gives us a look into their personal thoughts as well. Camino continuously begins to mention no matter how close she gets to Yahaira and even Zoila who is making an attempt of having a relationship with her, that her plan can not change. Eventually the plan is revealed that she is going to steal her sister’s passport and assume her identity to try and leave the country. It is not until we this final confrontation with El Cero do we realize it has no nothing to do with what she deserves but with her literal survival. There is no life for her in the Dominican Republic. Even though she loves her country, her aunt, her friends, and the beach, the crippling factors of the third world are preventing her from achieving her dreams. There is no vindication in her actions even though she may express it in her thoughts from time to time, she just wants to escape the inevitable future she sees for herself if she doesn’t move away from the Dominican Republic. Acevedo gives us the final encounter with El Cero to show what the stakes truly are for her if she doesn’t find a way to escape.

  3. In “Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo when the two sisters finally meet you can feel the whirlwind of emotions coming from both sides. For Yahaira, the emotions of meeting her sister and thus meeting the other half of her father’s life is mixed in with the culture shock of being in Dominican Republic for the first time. She is hesitant at first to embrace Camino and her family, especially since she sensed the hostility from Camino, but soon accepted this new experience and was even filled with joy when she realized her mother wouldn’t immediately be taking her back home. On the other end, Camino was reluctant to even accept Yahaira’s presence by putting a wall up and taking any chance she could to judge Yahaira and keep herself from accepting her sister. In Camino’s eyes Yahaira had the life she wanted, and she believed that with her father’s death, all hopes for having that life was ripped away from her which thus led to her trying to run away with the ten thousand dollars and Yahaira’s passport. Though through time and confrontation of El Cero the two girls fully accepted each other and are set up to have a strong relationship when they both go to New York.

    1. Although Camino is jealous of her half-sister’s upbringing, she is determined to form a meaningful relationship with her. One thing, however, haunts her every day, the fact that she is stuck in a third-world country with no meaningful future to look forward to (Acevedo). She decides she will steal her sister’s passport, not because she thinks it is what she deserves, but because she is only trying to survive.

  4. The development in Camino and Yahaira’s relationship during their days together in the Dominican Republic is Camino finally trusting Yahaira the moment she came to protect her. When Yahaira first came to the DR, Camino still did not want herself to become attached to her. Yahaira is impressed with Camino’s English when her first language is likely to be Spanish. Yahaira says “I feel like I am losing to my sister & it’s only the opening.” (p. 328). This quote illustrates that perhaps Yahaira thinks Camino is more superior than she is– however, Camino has the street smarts of what it’s like being domesticated in the DR. The complexity between these sisters, especially Camino for the first half of part 4, is that Camino does not trust Yahaira and does not like the fact that Yahaira has more privileges than she does. Yahaira, on the other hand, wants to figure Camino out and at least learn something from each other. But Yahaira and Camino share a bond of being daughters from the same father. “Sometimes, I look at her & it hits me that she is the only person who can understand what I feel, but she is also at the root of the hurt I’m feeling.” (Camino, p. 363). Camino’s confusion on how she feels about Yahaira is complex on its own but at the very least, she acknowledges that she has a sister. By the end of the story, Camino comfortably accepts flying out with Yahaira and her mom to live in New York. Despite Camino’s constant battle of not accepting a relationship with Yahaira, Camino finds herself accepting Yahaira immediately when she comes to protect her from El Cero.

    1. Hi Priya,

      I agree that Camino has an inner battle of how to feel towards her sister but we see a shift in their relationship when Yahaira and her mother come to her defense. What I found interesting is when El Cero said, “You’ve been her sister for what, two days? You’re going to want to mind your business” when they rushed to Camino’s side when she was being beaten by him. Despite how long they weren’t connected, Yahaira felt a need to defend her despite El Cero’s comment. It didn’t matter what their relationship was but the bond of being sisters by their father brings them together. I believe that Yahaira trying to make Camino feel safe changed the dynamic. Yahaira says, “I climb into bed beside Camino, on her other side, tuck my chin into her shoulder. Throw my arm around her middle. Let her know she is safe.” Yahaira’s attempts to build a safe space for Camino betters Camino’s trust in her. In the end, Camino leaves with Yahaira and her mother to New York. Camino felt trust in them to leave to the U.S. to live with them which is the happy ending I think we all wanted to hear.

  5. Camino and Yahaira’s relationship under goes a growing period throughout the time they spend in the Dominican Republic. At first it was awkward for both girls because although they knew they were sisters they still were two complete strangers. They didn’t fully understand each other. For example when Camino goes into yahairas bag looking for her passport but finds the marriage certificate which she eventually tears to pieces. Yahaira states “ I realize I don’t know my sister at all.If this was Dre I would know how to wrap my arms around her & hug the mad away”. (Pg. 329) Both sisters act similarly because they are cautious of being overly intrusive to one another.

    However the relationship changes after the family’s run in with El Cero. When Yahaira finds Camino with her blouse ripped open and in fear she wants to mention “I know, I know. I know this fear. You’re okay.I’m here. I got you”(pg. 344) Although she doesn’t say it out loud their relationship bonded to a new level. Remembering Yahairas sexual harassment encounter on public transportation and having no one to truly understand on she felt. After that encounter, little by little it became normal for them to interact with each other on a sisterly level.

  6. “I can tell from the stillness in the house, Camino isn’t here. I don’t know the rules of sisterhood? Am I supposed to try and find her? Am I supposed to leave her alone?” The fine-lines we must walk in our efforts to navigate relationships that should feel instinctual and easy – but often aren’t – are explored through Yahaira and Camino’s burgeoning sisterhood in pages 321-417. The two half-sisters are forced to reckon with each others’ existence as they mourn the loss of their father. At first, the two characters repeatedly compare themselves to the other. For example, on page 328, Yahaira is intimidated by Camino’s total bilingualism, “My Spanish is nowhere near as good, & it’s my first language. I feel like I am losing to my sister.” Quickly the two sisters begin caring for one another as their sense of intimacy grows – they feed each other sancocho, Yahaira is immediately protective of Camino from El Cero’s gaze, they share a bed, etc. Of course, they bond over their mutual loss. In one instance, Camino rubs Yahaira’s back as she weeps after their father’s funeral, in what is their first shared moment of physical intimacy.

    But ultimately and tragically, their bond is truly established in the wake of an attempted rape. After saving Camino from El Cero alongside Tia and her mother, Yahaira carefully tends to Camino at home: “At the house I help Camino out of her torn top. I try & reach for her jeans but it only forces her to cry harder. So I slp her shoes off & help her sit on the bed.” This sequence is heavy–Camino has just survived a violent attack from a rapist–but it is also a moment wherein the two sisters can truly relate to one another, since we know that Yahaira is also a victim of sexual assault. After consoling Camino, Yahaira climbs into bed with her and the author switches back to Camino’s perspective: “I am in between dreams, in one dream Yahaira wraps around me like one of those strangler figs. I imagine that she is that tree absorbing me I want to tell her.” This dream is emblematic of the breakthrough the two sisters had in establishing their sororal, lifelong bond.

  7. Zoila’s change of heart towards Camino is perhaps the most surprising transformation in Clap When You Land. Throughout the book we see instances of her refusing to go back to her homeland and her adamant refusal to allow Yahaira to visit it as well. With Yahaira forcing her hand by secretly flying to the Dominican Republic, Zoila’s motherly instincts completely overshadow whatever negative feelings she may have towards the idea of going back home. When confronted by Yahaira for giving away the money she’s supposed to get to her family so easily, Zoila tells Yahaira that her family all know of Yano’s secret: that he had another family in DR. This hints at the fact that Zoila feels that she’s being ridiculed by them, and perhaps by others, behind her back for standing idly by as Yano lives a double life. The only way she thinks she can earn back their respect is by giving them whatever money they ask for. Considering the fact that Camino’s mom was Zoila’s best friend, perhaps the reason why Zoila refused to go back home is because she suspected that the people from el barrio would also ridicule her. At first, Zoila seems hesitant to interact with people in DR, as Yahaira describes her sitting alone at several points. As time passes, however, it seems the same motherly instinct that got her on a plane is what ultimately is the catalyst for her decision to swallow her pride and follow through with Yano’s wishes to bring Camino to the US.

    1. II definitely agree Alan. Based on the book and especially the moments of anger from Zoila that you mention, I expected a stale greeting during the first encounter between Zoila and Camino. It seems though that in their meeting Zoila sees that Camino is just a child without a mother or father and that the hurt Yano caused cannot be put onto her. She probably also saw a little bit of Yahaira in her, because of their age and just their shared father, which probably helped kick those motherly instincts into drive. I do think though that we see signs that Zoila would have not been mean to Camino. In a way, she does some type of compassion to her by not letting her come to America before. She knows that she would have not treated Camino well and would have let her hurt from Yano overshadow her judgment. I would also like to acknowledge your part about her being ashamed. I didnt even notice before but you are absolutely right about that too. She is also disapproving of the party probably because everyone there knows the situation between her and Yano. Also, Camino’s mom was her friend which makes it probably ten times more embarrassing.

  8. Camino and Yahaira continue to have a complex relationship with each other as the story progresses until the end. Basically when the two girls meet both sister keep thinking of what the other sister thinks of them but never really expresses it and keeps having a feeling of guilt. At first when Yaharia tries to tell Camino that she knows people like El Cero from where she is from Camino is quick to brush her off and say she doesn’t know anything and gets mad at her. Camino also stays jealous at Yahaira once again when her Tia decides to pat Yaharia and says she has no sympathy and at least she still has her mother. Camino doesn’t realize that Yaharia has gone through a lot and keeps trying to attack her and her mother without actually saying anything. Camino wanted to steak Yaharias passport and leave the entire family without their knowledge but when Camino runs into El Cero we learn that both sisters end up expressing themselves. El Cero tries to take everything from Camino so she wouldn’t leave and Yaharia comes to her rescue and shows how much she actually cares of her by standing up to El Cero. Yaharia tells Camino she is there for her and proud to be her sister and lets her know she is safe. They went from being strangers and not really thinking they would truly find the deeper thoughts of each other but the scene with El Cero shows how much Yaharia actually cares and wants the best for her sister.

  9. In this part of the novel Yahira and Camino finally meet, and both have been able to see what life is like for both of themselves , mostly Yahira since she is in Dominican Republic. To continue, there’s a tension that is noticed by Camino and Yahira with, Camino having this anger towards her sister because of money and the things that she doesn’t have. Camino is determined to move to the United States, no matter how she was thinking of doing so. However, when the confrontation with el Cero and Camino’s family comes and help her there is a change in the dynamic. The family finds out the truth of the struggles that Camino has been facing do to her father’s death. There’s bond and a new family being built from this confrontation between the women.

    1. Fully agree that Camino has taken the act of selfishness because she wants the life that her sister has, that their dad gave her . Basically Camino saw that as in a sense a favoritism when Yahiara arrived in DR. Although Camino was faced with so much emotions on whether to act one way to her sister or the other she has taken the action to accept her. Camino inside wanted to bash out and tell Yahiara everything she wish she could’ve had but instead she decided to act maturely. Throughout the story Camino grew up as a person, and it is shown through the relationship she ends up building with her sister. I believe her dad would’ve been proud of both of them for having been able to understand the situation and move past it to all be family.

  10. Option 3
    We start off with Yahaira, – a supportive sister, comforting and warm. Yahaira is out of the car first, frantic and looking for her sister, desperate to protect her. She pushes him out of the way and goes from protector to comforter in the flash of a moment. She physically holds her sister and conceals her as El cero is surrounded by the women. Behind her, Tia jumps from the bushes, armed, ready to strike, like a mother lion protecting its cub. Chanting and brandishing her machete. She repeats prayers as she smacks her machete. The place becomes quiet as she commands silence as her prayers are at full volume now. Then there is Zoila, a strong authoritarian figure. Truly a general’s daughter. Unarmed, but you wouldn’t want to cross her. No fear in her as she speaks. She commands respect as she lets El Cero know that his intentions with Camino ends here and now. Her words backed with the threat that there is nowhere he can’t run that she won’t find him. Yahaira beautifully compares the women’s alliance to pieces on a chest board, She herself the queen. Tia the bishop with her machete and her mother the knight. All together to protect Camino and in turn each other at all costs.

  11. OPTION 2: Zoila’s Emotional Transformation
    In Clap When You Land, Zoila was in a special connection with both families, countries and ties with Papi.
    Zoila knowing the truth of her relationship with Papi to be not one of true love, bared the weight of falling short. Having been married and learning that only a few months would pass before Papi’s desire for obtaining what Zoila represented to him would have left him satisfied to stop pursuing adamantly. Zoila learning that his real treasure was found in her own friend, hurt the intimacy she sought for in Papi. Feeling betrayed by the people she cared for, and disregarding her fathers words, she now left her emotions on the burner, not letting her true pain show in her familial relationship.
    In the dying of Papi, Zoila no longer could hold onto the pain she endured, knowing that he had died leaving her family. I believe Zoila could not maintain herself as she was in denial, feeling anger, and resentment to the image she tried to maintain to hide her circumstances.
    Finding out that Yahaira left to have one last goodbye, was a necessary shock to push Zoila to confront her lasting prejudices against DR, Papi, and Camino. It forced her to confront her true emotions, not what she led herself to believe in her cloud of anger.
    In her meeting, and allowing her to care for Camino’s hardships, she finally saw her situation with acceptance. She was awarded privileges that Camino/ DR could not gain by themselves. Zoila in visiting DR, was able to confront her old wounds in that place, and heal herself in saying goodbye, and thusly, heal others (Camino) which brought her to her new stage emotionally, beginning again with a transformed role as a mother. Her emotional transformation was largely attributed to the locations she visited. When she went back to where it all began, in the Motherland, she healed.

  12. I think Acevedo’s approach is to the funeral and the spiritual traditions is reflected between both Yahaira and Camino. It is in their upbringing that we see how one of them is in doubt of spiritual things such as spirits, ghosts, saints, and offerings for the deceased. Yahaira, having grown up in New York City was not surrounded by religion as her dad and mom didn’t emphasize it in her upbringing. It speaks true to many LatinX children who were not exposed to the nuances of these traditions and the importance of them as in the states, many immigrants focus on work and don’t have the time to carry out these practices anymore. Meanwhile, Camino having grown up in the Dominican Republic would be exposed to all the traditions and spiritual rites that occur during funerals and other events. Their beliefs are laid out when Yahaira asks Camino if she believes in ghost, which promptly leads Camino to say that anyone who doesn’t is “un come mierda”. Though the interaction we see not only were they apart physically, but spiritually as well. Yahaira would later go on to say “I don’t know much about Saints or ancestors, only the rumors of sacrificing chickens & how it all relates to voodoo.”, and it shows how she is ignorant of what these traditions mean to people back in D.R. as someones perceived notion away from the traditions is only based on rumor and superstition. As someone who has lived in both the states and Mexico, where my family comes from, I can attest just how some traditions are lost oversees with rumor filling the void that is created. I think Acevedo handled it with respect to the subject matter through Yahaira who did not understand it fully like Camino does but appreciated it.

  13. OPTION THREE: The final confrontation with El Cero generates an alliance of all the women in the story. Examine the strengths of each character and their distinct defense against masculinist violence.
    It was powerful to see the women all come together at the end of the story to defend Camino from El Cero, uniting as a pack to fend off a predator, putting their differences aside in order to protect family. It was astonishing but not surprising that they pushed aside the complexities of the betrayals and grief the death of their father/husband/brother-(not?)in-law and channeled the anger of their grief at El Cero – it gave them a way to connect around their pain as a family and want to protect each other instead of fighting with one another. Zoila, Yahaira’s mother reconnects to her Dominican roots, letting her hair loose and acting out of a mothers instinct – reconnecting to the strength that the sudden reminder of her husband’s second life had dampened. Tia Solana embodies the strength of the curanderas before her, connecting to mother nature around her – the ocean and the skies mirroring her passion and strength ~ passing on a generational tradition of standing up to men who try to tear women down.

  14. Camino and Yahaira’s relationship is complex and develops while they are together in DR. In the beginning, Camino and Yahaira’s relationship is full of tension. When they first meet at the airport, Yahaira say’s “for a moment I want to smack her hard. For wearing my face. For looking like a Yahaira-lite version of me. For so clearly being my father’s daughter” (p 325). However, Yahaira isn’t the only one who shows animosity toward her sister. We see with Camino when Camino leads Yahaira to an unofficial taxi and Yahaira refuses to get in it and then when Yahaira pays for the taxi, Camino shows agitation toward Yahaira. Yahaira said “it seems my money offends her”(p 329). Camino also shows a little hostility toward her sister when Yahaira is on the phone and Tia comforts her feeling as if she doesn’t need comfort and when she feels Yahaira can’t relate to her situation with El Cero saying “she can’t possibly have known anyone, or any situation, like El Cero” (p 343). The sister’s relation then begins to change and develop when Yahaira breaks down and Camino feels the need to comfort her that even surprises Camino. And when Yahaira shields Camino from El Cero and takes care of her afterwards. Their relationship strengthens as they both realize they are going through the exact same hurt. Camino says “sometimes, I look at her & it hits me that she is the only person who can understand what I feel” (p 363). In the end Yahaira convinces her mother to let Camino come back with them to the US because she “cannot will not leave without her” (p 397).

  15. We see a different side of Camino in the book’s last scene, one that is not like the polite and well-behaved girl we have come to know and love. At periods, she acts in a manner that is just enraged by her sister’s good fortune, but she regards her with reference and stifles her desire to attack her and her mom. It all goes back to Yahaira’s presumption that she is entitled to compensation because she resided in a developing country and was not given a single penny. Elizabeth Acevedo shows us how the two sisters behave and their innermost feelings. Yahaira and even Zoila, who is genuinely trying to connect with Camino, are constantly reminded that her scheme will not transform no matter how nice they get. It is disclosed later in the story that she plans on stealing her sister’s travel documents and assuming her status to flee the country (Stevenson and Deborah pg 386-387). Only when we face El Cero in the big showdown that we understand this fight is not about her deserving it, but rather about her very continued existence. In the Dominican Republic, she has no prospects. Although she adores her homeland, her aunties, her pals, and the waterfront, the third world’s stifling aspects stop her from realizing her goals. No matter how much she tries to rationalize her acts, there is no sense of affirmation in her deeds. She wants to flee the Dominican Republic, where she sees an inevitability. El Cero is Acevedo’s last adversary, and she uses this last showdown to demonstrate to us just how dire the situation is for her.

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