Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Asynchronous Blog Post on Malcriada


1. Read the short story “Malcriada” by Lorraine Ávila (Blackboard: Course Documents).

3. Pick ONE of the following options and respond in the comment section down below. The deadline is Wednesday, 4/19 before the class.

200-word minimum.


Unpack the significance of the narrator’s (nick)name “Malcriada.” How Avila uses this word to present a critique of how young girls and femmes are silenced within patriarchal societies.


Elaborate on the intra-Caribbean migration routes presented by the story and Miguel’s and the narrator’s understanding of the ocean.


What are the conditions and life-threatening dangers of migrating through yolas as presented by Ávila?

20 thoughts on “Asynchronous Blog Post on Malcriada”

  1. Migrating through the Yolas is not a very good time, which is illustrated very clearly by Malcriada. For one thing it involves 18 people being on a small boat together, not only this but Malcriada points out that, “Five Days? That’s a whole lot of time for all these people to be together on the same boat without using the bathroom.” This makes the point that even if everything goes according to plan the migrants are still going to be forced to go through extremely inhumane conditions for an entire week. =Basically, even best case scenario is pretty torturous. With this being said Malcriada’s journey goes even worse than this. Malcriada’s ship ended up being attacked by sharks, and the captains of the ship decided that the only way to throw a bleeding pregnant girl over the edge to be eaten by the sharks. Crossing the Yolas brings the risk of not only death, but death in one of the absolute worst ways. This shows that in order to cross the Yolas, Malcriada not only had to go through inhumane conditions, but also be scarred for life. This means that Malcriada will likely not be the same girl she was in the Caribbean as she will be by the time she arrives in New York.

  2. Malcriada by Lorraine Ávila was a very interesting and graphic story, especially in the beginning. Also The Malcriada is known to be called naughty, bad-mannered or badly brought up. The beginning of the story was very gory. Migrating through the Yolas was a terrifying experience for Malcriada and the other 18 people that was in the small ship. In one part of the story the people had to sit their backs on wood as they developed a painful sunburn that some passengers could not handle. Especially Miguel and The other Captain made the migration even worse for some of the passengers. The most messed up part that the captains did was when the ship ended up being attacked by sharks and the captains decided that the only way to get rid of them was to throw a bleeding pregnant girl over the edge to be eaten by two sharks, the tiger shark and one other shark. The migration proved that Crossing the Yolas brings the risk of not only death but absolute agony and the worst experience in someone’s life. The ending was tragically great as in the end she decided to tell Miguel her real name which was Naomi as she thinks how life would be if she was a normal girl in New York.

  3. “Malcriada/o” is a derogative term used to describe misbehaved children and young adults. Its English term(s) would be “brat” and sometimes “spoiled”, sometimes a singular meaning of both words.

    Malcriada wasn’t given the grace of receiving, much less knowing, her actual name until she was 12. From the moment she learned to speak her first words, instead of being met with praises she was with her mother’s scolding, who found trouble with her tone. Naomi did just what any toddler would do; searching for her mother’s attention at any given moment and being curious about everything there was to know, yet she was yelled at for what was essentially what a young child was supposed to do as they developed. In a patriarchal society, as is the Dominican Republic’s, girls are taught from a young age to be proper. Proper means being quiet, asking few to no questions, to sit with their legs crossed or pressed tight together, and follow rules obediently. Girls in such environments aren’t given much room for growth and mistakes and developing a mind of their own. Under such pressure Naomi tried her best to not alter her elders, but she was a person bursting with curiosity and knowledge that was often responded with words to beat her down into conforming.

    We see the case of her grandmother revealing that she was once as curious as Naomi but she was silenced as it wasn’t what a proper and educated woman should do. Her grandmother expressed briefly the hardships and cruelty women like them are subjected to, and in fear of Naomi getting hurt she tried to tame her in a sense, even if it was in the same dispirited manner she once was silenced with. The short story hints at women’s choices and personalities being more broadly accepted and encouraged than in the Dominican Republic, as Naomi’s grandmother encouraged her to grow into her own person now that she was going to the States, because liberating herself was going to be near impossible in the island.

  4. Option One

    The nickname “Malcriada” is given to the young narrator by her mother and by a lesser extent her grandmother because she was known as a talkative and disobedient child. In the short story, their is a scene where “Malcriada” is being beaten by her grandmother with a fig branch as a form of punishment for supposed wrongdoing. The term malcriada can be translated as either bad girl, bad child, bratty, etc, so for most of her life, she was called the spanish equivalent of all of those english terms. The short story shows how young girls are often punished when they don’t conform to how their families want them to be. Sometimes they are punished physically, such as Malcriada herself, other times they are punished emotionally by being given an ostracizing nickname and then garner the reputation of being a “spoiled, ungrateful brat” by the rest of their family. Being scorned as “the bad one” by members of your own family often lead to a child internalizing how they are mistreated and effect how they see the world as they grow up.

  5. The word “Malcriada” is meant to be used in a negative context towards young girls as a threat to instill fear as to how they should act. Throughout Naomi’s childhood she was called “Malcriada” for acting her age, like a child, being filled with curiosity. Avila uses this word as a critique of how young girls and femmes are silenced within patriarchal society. Something that resonated with me was how Naomi was given the name “Malcriada” when she was a small toddler. It made me think about how in the Latinx culture and community young girls and femmes are expected to not act their age. They are expected to act mature and take on the roles of responsibility at a young age. A quote that stuck out to me during the reading was, “Girls, good girls, talked in whispers. And in the best-case scenario didn’t say a word. They sat. Their legs pressed against each other even when the inside of their legs peeled…” This quote made me think about how in other Latinx family gatherings the younger girls often have to cover up so their own male relatives don’t look at them in a sexual context even though that’s not how it should be in the first place. If they don’t cover up they are often blamed for being enticing to the male relatives. The word “Malcriada” was meant as a way to control young girls and femmes.

  6. Internal migration has taken place throughout the Caribbean for practically as long as the Caribbean has existed but just as Miguel’s hands are full of blisters, Malcriada’s are soft so even though they are both crossing the same ocean, their understanding of it is quite different. Malcriada’s understanding of the ocean, for one, is much more optimistic than Miguel’s, as she enthusiastically describes how it’s what has held up their island for so long and what enables others to go from one island to another, even when they aren’t always allowed to do so, and even stretches her back against the frame of the yola at one point (she still covered her eyes when a bleeding pregnant woman was being fed to the sharks, of course). Her understanding of the ocean is also spiritual at some points, particularly when she recalls her grandmother’s stories of a woman in yellow who would guard the waters and how she instead would somehow protect them if the lady wasn’t able to show up.

    Miguel, on the other hand, has a much grimmer understanding of the ocean, as it is more like a bathroom for him, as that’s how it’s often used. In general, Miguel’s been doing this for quite some time, since the age of 15, 18 years, and 58 times to be exact, though possibly more than that, and was first sent to Puerto Rico to study chemistry on a scholarship, though that doesn’t seem like that worked out to say the least. While Malcriada calls these oceans a “friend,” Miguel has seen far too many deaths to count, all to try to get to a country that does not want them at all. It also means that the ocean is a place where he has to make plenty of difficult decisions, most infamously, throwing a bleeding pregnant woman aboard to deter sharks from the yola. When Malcriada reaches Puerto Rico, she can become Naomi, but the ocean and the horrors it has to offer is much more permanent for Miguel.

  7. In Lorraine Ávila’s short story “Malcriada,” the author presents the conditions and life-threatening dangers that migrants face while crossing the sea in yolas. Ávila describes the yolas as small wooden boats that are overloaded with migrants, including children, pregnant women, and elderly people. The boats are cramped, and the migrants must sit on top of each other, with no space to move or stretch their legs. The boats are also not equipped with basic facilities such as food, water, or medical supplies, which makes the journey even more challenging. The migrants must endure hunger, thirst, and exposure to the sun and the sea for several days until they reach their destination. The migrants face several dangers while crossing the sea in yolas. Firstly, the boats are often overcrowded, which can cause them to capsize or sink, leading to the loss of lives. Secondly, the migrants are vulnerable to attacks by pirates and other criminals who rob them of their belongings and sometimes rape or kill them. Thirdly, the migrants are exposed to extreme weather conditions such as storms, high winds, and rough seas, which can cause the boats to drift off course, leading to them being lost at sea. In conclusion, Lorraine Ávila’s short story “Malcriada” highlights the challenging conditions and life-threatening dangers that migrants face while crossing the sea in yolas. The migrants endure hunger, thirst, and exposure to the elements for several days, and they are at risk of drowning, piracy, and attacks by criminals. The story is a reminder of the desperate situations that people find themselves in, and the lengths they are willing to go to escape poverty, violence, and persecution.


    Unpack the significance of the narrator’s (nick)name “Malcriada.” How Avila uses this word to present a critique of how young girls and femmes are silenced within patriarchal societies.

    The nickname “Malcriada” given to Naomi holds a lot of significance because names are a part of our identities. Before I was born my father told my mom that they should not name me Luna as they had originally planned because he feared kids would call me “Lunática”, in other words a lunatic, crazy. We all know that if people refer to you in a way, especially with something like your name that is essential to identifying who you are, it will affect your self esteem. When you hear something often in your formative years, you will begin to believe it because you have yet to know yourself or build confidence. Naomi’s mom to start clearly was unkind. A baby, learning how to speak is bound to repeat words. Her aggression towards her child must be rooted in the way she was raised, and the way her mother was raised. When you decide to be a mother, you agree to that human being calling you “mama” for at least 18 years of their life consistently. Later on in the story, we see that Naomi grows to be a young woman who doesn’t always agree with authority figures. She voices her opinions, and doesn’t follow patriarchal rules that say young women should know their place. This lives up to her nickname in Latin American culture. There are negative connotations associated with women who don’t follow the status quo in LATAM, where machismo thrives. Avila shows us what a “malcriada” really is, just a young woman who stands up against her discomfort and for herself. It offers the perspective that these girls aren’t bad, that they are rebelling against the patriarchy which is upheld by adults. It offers the perspective that adults don’t always know what’s best.

  9. Option 1

    Malcriada is an all encompassing term; one that encapsulates the many shapes the system of patriarchy employs to censure female expression. Ultimately it is about keeping women silent. In the story we see that Naomi is not a troublemaker or an indecent child, what she is, is a bright and curious little girl trying to make sense of the world. One who’s also been made to feel like she doesn’t have a place in the world. She opens by detailing her physical features and how her family has deemed them undesirable. I think Avila is conveying the difficulties of growing up in the machismo culture of the Caribbean, how a woman is treated as a tool of utility, rather than treated with the decency, love, and respect of a human being. This problem is compounded when a woman is naturally curious, or has the stomach to challenge the system. It’s not enough to be reduced in this system, the pure thought of talking back is enough to see a woman get ostracized from her community or worse. It’s also noteworthy how universal these standards are for women, Miguel who isn’t portrayed as an example of machismo culture, even has a moment of acceptance when he hears her name of malcriada. Through this story, Avila presents the plight of women in patriarchal societies and the troubling implications women must maneuver in this world, our world.

  10. Option 1
    The story of Malcriada explores and brings light to different themes that we encounter in our every day lives. I believe that the narrator is called Malcriada due to the narrator wanting to speak out about certain things, but quickly being silenced.
    She had suffered and seen many things throughout her life, and one of the biggest being away from her mother and raised by her grandmother. Her grandmother represents a matriarch figure. In many families, it is a very common to have patriarchal and matriarchal people. Usually they are the ones considered “the head” of the whole family, leading and guiding them throughout life. However, a lot of times, the children to these parental figures are silenced and sometimes even discriminated against. Unfortunately, a lot of people in these patriarchal societies have suffered much oppression. Malcriada is one of those people. She was treated wrongfully and it changed the way she acted and thought about life.

  11. The narrator’s nickname “Malcriada” has extreme significance throughout the story and significance around a bigger issue in reality as well. “Malcriada” is a nickname given to women who is seen to be “poorly raised”, to have bad behavior, or to be too outspoken. In the story, the narrator Naomi, is given this name because of her inability to fit in to what is known as the “norm” in society. That social norm would be that women have to abide by the rules of being feminine, obedient, polite, nurturing, etc. These norms that are placed on women for generations were ideas created by patriarchal figures. Reflecting back to the story, it’s interesting to see how even though there wasn’t a physical male character portrayed in the story, patriarchal views are still imbedded. And if a young women rebels against those ideas they are seen to be a “problem child” or outcasted. The audience doesn’t learn of the narrator’s name until the end of the story, where it seems to be like some sort of revelation that the narrator finally figures out her identity and steps out of that nickname of “Malcriada.” It was also interesting to see how her grandmother realizes that these ideas on women were patriarchal, because personally within my family, my grandparents are very traditional and don’t see this way as being a problem on young women.

  12. Avila demonstrates that a “malcriada is truly just a young woman who fights for herself and against discomfort. It presents the viewpoint that these females aren’t as terrible as they are made out to be and that they are defying the patriarchal system that is supported by adults. Malcriada is an all-inclusive phrase that the patriarchal system uses to suppress female expression. Naomi is depicted in the novel as a bright and inquisitive young girl who is attempting to make sense of the world, not as a troublemaker or an immoral youngster. She begins by describing her appearance and how her family finds it unattractive.I believe Avila is illustrating the challenges of growing up in machismo society of the Caribbean, where women are treated more as tools of utility than with the dignity, love, and respect that comes with being treated as human beings. The difficulty is exacerbated when a woman is naturally inquisitive or has the guts to question the rules. In this system, it’s not enough to be diminished; just the mere suggestion of speaking up can cause a woman to be shunned by her peers or even experience worse.

  13. The way word “ Malcriada” is used to describe someone who’s grateful, acting like a brat or spoiled. In other words, it’s used in a negative way when describing someone’s actions. In the short story, the word Malcriada was used to describe the narrator as a disobedient child who doesn’t listen or follows rules. Avila uses the word “Malcriada” to critique the ways in which patriarchal societies silence and marginalize young girls and femmes who do not fit into traditional gender roles. By embracing a label that is often used to shame and stigmatize them, is refusing to be silenced or erased by societal expectations. Also, the word is use as a tool for empowerment and self-expression, as well as to show when young girls don’t follow up to their families expectation. And because of their actions they get punished whether that’s through physical actions and emotionally. This results to your family considering and labeling you as the bad one or the trouble maker of the family who will never be good or listen. Growing up, my mom would use this word to describe my behavior in terms of when i didn’t listen or i was acting like a brat.

  14. Unpack the significance of the narrator’s (nick)name “Malcriada.” How Avila uses this word to present a critique of how young girls and femmes are silenced within patriarchal societies.

    The term “Malcriada” is used to silence and erase the individuality that young women face in POC and other societies in order to push them into their submissive roles, so that they are better equipped to keep the society running. It is to no ones shock that most patriarchal societies rely heavily on women to keep the society running. Many women are often holding the entire household together while also taking care of children, as well as working to make money, especially in poorer communities. For the main character, who lives in a matriarchal home, these expectations are still forced on her much like they would in a patriarchal home, because over time these ironically constructed roles stick. As we spoke about in class, having a role and choosing to test the boundaries of that role is a big no no in a world that relies on women being hard workers that are present but not heard. When women are not celebrated for their efforts, and then silenced from their joys, meaning being shut down when they try to dress differently or be more outspoken or even how they do their hair, the term “Malcriada” and other terms like it are used to silence that push.

  15. Option 1
    The significance of the narrators nickname “Malcriada” is to show that Latino culture is significantly tough on young women when it comes to obedience and discipline. Malcriada is translated to bad behaved , not raised right , ungrateful and disobedient. In latino culture you are supposed to respect your elder , not talk back and give your parents the utmost respect. In Malcriada we can see that as a young baby she was curious and that curiosity led to her being seen as disobedient or “Malcriada”. After her mother leaving her and her grandmother raising her she was raised to stay quiet and be obedient. Later we realize that her grandmother was subjected to the same treatment growing up. Her grandmother wasn’t given a chance to express herself without being called a “malcriada” so she did this to prevent her this in her granddaughter . Avila uses this word to explain how young latina girls are silenced at a young age to not ask questions, to never talk back leading to many repressed feelings and generations of women being silenced. Avila story on Malcriada shows how in the end when you find your true identity when you aren’t raised your how life being told that you are a “Malcriada” a whole new door of opportunity opens up.

  16. Option 1

    “ Malcriada” in English means spoiled, naughty, brat, bad- mannered. Her mother gave her that nickname/name. That name is really used in a negative way. It s doesn’t mean anything good. They wanted her to act an age she wasn’t. And that’s why they called her She was actually known as a child who doesn’t listen and talks a lot. The shorts story shows how young girls and femmes are silenced within patriarchal societies. The girls would be punished if they weren’t acting like how their mom or grandma wanted them to act. Malcriada was always known as that child who is disobedient. In the short story is shows how malcriada who was beat by her grandmother. Her grandmother would beat her with branches of jasmine that grew in her backyard.

  17. Option 1
    In the story “Malcriada,” the narrator’s nickname is Malcriada which holds a significant meaning. This nickname is essential in portraying how young girls and females are silenced within patriarchal societies. The word “malcriada” in Spanish means “poorly raised” or “ill-mannered;” it suggests that the narrator does not conform to the expected behavior of a young girl in a patriarchal society. For example, Malcriada did not manage to learn how to pronounce sounds properly, and the author emphasizes, “girls, good girls talked in whisper… Malcriada wasn’t good girl” (Avila 21). Thus, due to this nickname, the girl is often seen as rebellious, disobedient, and outspoken due to this nickname, which goes against the norms of feminine behavior.
    Using the current word as the narrator’s nickname, Avila critiques how patriarchal societies silence young girls and treat them unequally compared to males. The story “Malcriada” highlights how the narrator’s nickname reflects her relationship with men, especially with Miguel. When the girl tries to explain to Miguel what she knows about the ancestors and the ocean, he tells her: “Don’t tell me ?Eres media brujita? (meaning half a witch)” (Avila 27). Therefore, Malcriada experiences cruel treatment from Miguel, which means that her name reflects her inferior position to men, raising feminist issues.
    The story’s final paragraph reveals the idea that Malcriada’s name means that it holds a bargain for the girls, who have to follow social standards set by men. “If she wasn’t Malcriada, if she was no longer a girl that had grown behaviorally malformed, that had been raised badly, then she could do and be anything” (Avila 29). The current quote proves that this nickname reflects the unfair treatment of females and obedience to the men’s world. Hence, Malcriada’s nickname in the story highlights the silencing and inferior position of young girls and femmes in patriarchal societies, reflecting on feminist issues and the need to conform to social standards set by men.

  18. The narrator’s nickname “Malcriada” is essential because it draws attention to the ways that young women and girls are suppressed in patriarchal society. Young girls who do not fit into conventional gender norms and expectations are often shamed and silenced by being called “malcriada,” which in English means “ill-mannered” or “naughty.”

    The grandmother in Avila’s narrative gives the narrator this moniker, and she uses it to control and rein in her conduct. Constant instructions to be quiet, ladylike, and to refrain from interrupting effectively silence the narrator’s voice and restrict her agency. In contrast, as the narrative develops, the narrator starts to rebel against these expectations and regain her voice, finally accepting her identity as a “malcriada” and rejecting the patriarchal conventions that attempt to dominate her.

    Through the usage of this moniker, Avila critiques the ways in which young girls and femmes are hushed in patriarchal countries, underlining the significance of giving these people the confidence to speak up and fight against social conventions that try to restrict their potential.

  19. Option one
    To be a ‘Malcriada’ is to be a bad girl. It is to speak back, to question the things around you that do not make sense. In the story, the nickname is given to girls in order to humiliate them, to make them feel bad for behaving in certain ways. When young girls are told from a young age that they are bad and their value comes in the form of staying quiet, they will internalize those feelings about themselves. Avila shows how girls and femmes are indoctrinated from childhood to feel inferior and powerless. “Malcriada’ is often used in households as a common nickname when elders want to critique bad behavior. But Avila conveys that such a common nickname can also be used as a form of oppression. Furthermore, this also conveys that in Patriarchal societies, it is easy to create systems of oppression out of seemingly insignificant things.

  20. Malcriada is often used as a mechanism to silence Avila and it is a reflection of generational pain as a result of patriarchy. Avila lives in a house full of women who were raised to keep their needs covered and to live for other people. These people pleasing tendencies are because women are expected to sacrifice their careers to maintain a house and raise children. However, Avila is outspoken and curious about the systems around her since she is always questioning them. She questions why her mother left her to find work in a different country. Why do women have to leave the Dominican Republic, their home, to give their families a better life? How come the education and careers are accessible to women in DR?
    It is significant that Avila is called Malcriada because it demonstrates that while is young and a part of a generation where women are presented with more opportunities the remnants of sexism still follow her. Her grandmother calls her this because the gender roles that women are expected to follow is all she knows. She doesnt know better. She doesnt know better. Furthermore, for it to be her grandmother to reveal to the audience that her granddaughter’s name is “Naomi” is important since it shows that she is taking responsibility and is willing to change. By depicting a woman who holds herself accountable, societal systems get challenged. Patriarchy usually wants women to stay in their place however the grandmother challenges the box she was forced into.

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