Contemporary Latin American Fiction

Asynchronous Blog Post on Clap When You Land (Pages 116-218)

ASYNCHRONOUS BLOG POST Deadline: 10/4 before the class.

Instructions:

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

OPTION ONE

How do Camino and Yahaira’s notions of family are transformed during this mourning period? Include reflections on biological, extended, and chosen families. Discuss at least two scenes from this section.

OPTION TWO

How does Camino’s levels of vulnerability increase after the tragedy? Elaborate on the ways the issues she confronts offer a glimpse into soci0-economic or cultural dilemmas in the Dominican Republic. Make reference to at least two scenes from this section.

OPTION THREE

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

.tourism and native exploitation

.sexual violence

.access to health care and alternative medicine

.acesss to US citizenship

.spiritual practices

OPTION FOUR

Write a poem that summarizes one theme from this section (see OPTION THREE) using only direct verses (quotations from different pages) from Elizabeth Acevedo.

OPTION FIVE

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 (116-218) from Clap When You Land do you want to bring into the discussion?

24 thoughts on “Asynchronous Blog Post on Clap When You Land (Pages 116-218)”

  1. In reading this next section of “Clap When You Land” I was struck by a particular passage on page 159. Acevedo laments – quite powerfully –the exploitation of the Dominican Republic at the hands of foreign tourism. The first sequence, “I am from a playground place. Our oceans that we need for fish are cleared so extranjeros can kite surf,” is so tragic. The phrase “playground place” is evocative and harkens me back to just a few months ago, when residents of Hawaii pleaded with tourists to not visit the islands during a particularly bad drought, in order to preserve water for the locals. It was heartbreaking – but not surprising – to see tourists completely disregard their pleas and splash around in resort pools and golf: “Our land, lush & green, is bought & sold to foreign powers so they can build luxury hotels for others to rest their heads.” Later, Acevedo astutely points out that countries like the Dominican Republic will be the first to bear the brunt of the climate crisis – despite global warming being caused by those in power in the developed world. The author also writes that in addition to the nature, the women and children of D.R. are also subject to gross exploitation by tourists: “Even the women, girls like me, our mothers & tias, our bodies are branded jungle gyms.” Sex tourism is heinous and I’m thankful Acevedo incorporated a critique of the industry in her novel.

    Where will the rich play when all of the islands are gone? What will any of us do then?

    1. Everything you said is so true and the passage you picked is one of the most visceral so far. The quote you picked where Camino says “even the women, girls like me, / our mothers & tias, our bodies / are branded jungle gyms.” was especially visceral since it says how the women, and young girls, are stolen of their autonomy to become branded jungle gyms, with is a metaphor that echos Camino calling the Dominican Republic “a playground place.” The mirrored metaphor for both her country and its women shows how abused both are, and also how they feed into each, with tourist coming for both. It was also notable to me how this passage came right after El Cero, who “has his hand in every pocket,” threatened her and Camino’s tia lectured her and essentially victim blamed. Elizabeth Acevado does a really effective job at tracing how sexual assault and violence on a specific local level is not isolated, but instead a part of larger, macro-level inequality and exploitations that trickle into everyday life, and beliefs.

      1. I agree with both Jaz and Sven with the quote they picked and the analogy “even the women, girls like me,/ our mothers & tias, our bodies/ are branded jungle gyms.” This quote spoke to me because it shows how tourists go to see the beauty in places but sometimes disturb the beauty in those places. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, when people were going on spring break trips to Puerto Rico, tourists were behaving like the pandemic didn’t exist and disregarding safety measures which caused an increase of Covid cases at one point in Puerto Rico. Another issue which was El Cero was centered around people exploiting women and their bodies for the men. When I first heard the story and how they explained the father had to pay off El Cero just to stay away was crazy because it was normalized in their community that older men use younger girls and their bodies for their gain and people would either have to stand by and watch or play some sort of protective role like Camino father did and use the money to stop it from happening.

    2. I completely agree 100% with you because it’s true. Tourists don’t realize how when they arrive at a touristic place even when asked not to, they cause a whole lot of damage just by the single fact of arriving there. Adding on to the example you provided from Hawaii residents asking tourists not to go and visit during the time because it was hurting them, is very selfish of tourists because what touristic place will ask you not to visit if you benefit them economically? Only if they’re in a really bad situation would something like this really be asked of and these are things we don’t take into consideration. We know we’re hurting the Earth we live in but we still manage to ignore it. Also, the fact that Acevedo touches the topic of Sex tourism with the quote “Even the women, girls like me, our mothers & tias, our bodies are branded jungle gyms,” it says a lot of how unhuman we can be. Why go to another place and use woman? Why use any woman? It’s so monstrous and wicked that it needs to be brought to more of people’s attention and create more awareness on it.

    3. Acevedo’s lamentations not only represent the plea of the Dominicans but also help to shed light on the global crisis of climate change. We are living in a capitalist world, where the poor continue to be exploited by the rich. Just like the lands and buildings, women and children are exploited too through sex tourism, a point that Acevedo helps to shed light on.

  2. OPTION ONE
    Camino treats her aunt as an outsider as she mourns her fathers passing. She isolates her only close tie of family like she treats her neighbors, schoolmates, and teachers. The only person she seeks solace in is with Carline whom she grew up with. They both are in a state of stress and hardship. Their love for eachother like sisters, has allowed Camino to feel vulnerable around her. I think Camino wanted to feel comforted with someone who is able to speak freely about the hardship with her, over a parental figure. Its hard to depend on relatives as your main support when both parents are no longer able to take on the role. Camino might not have been ready to rely on her aunt. Seeing as Camino is now orphaned she is worried, “ There is no one to provide help./ There are my good grades/ & my aunt’s aging hands”(201). She realizes the safety for her to focus on her future is no longer a privilege she can afford. She is forced to acknowledge (the dangers in her community; El Cero,) her poverty- lack of financial stability to finish school, and the mortality of her aunt.

    Yahaira’s (Yaya’s) family dynamics with her mother have flipped as now she takes on the role of the protector and form of stability in her home. She did not allow herself to mourn in the same way her mom is; to get a sense of control of her reality. Since Yahaira already knew of her fathers secret life, she must have felt her family was already broken, and with more evidence later connecting that Yahaira was the only one who did not know, she felt many emotions to impede her ability to mourn her father as the loss that it was. Seeking solace in her girlfriend, Dre, she knows she can find comfort in focusing on her stable & honest relationship that she did not have with her parents. Dre is her source of peace and thus, her main family she leans on. “ ‘I’m here, Yaya. I’m here.’/ Four hours we sit. Just like that”(132)

    1. I completely agree. It’s interesting to think of the difference between the family you are born into and the family you choose. For both Camino and Yahira, they both disregard their maternal caretakers in favor of girls similar to their own ages. I can’t help but think that maybe the author is also tackling the topic of generation gap. The most obvious one would be the gap between immigrants and the children of immigrants. A topic we talked about in the previous classes, how Yahira doesn’t really feel too connected with the home her mother and father came from. But I also think there is a play on the differences between two generations separated by globalization. Where the newer generation of children born in the age of the internet become intimately connected with other cultures and become allured with it. It is not too hard a thing to imagine. Despite being separated by miles and miles in physical distance, Camino and Yahira find each other by chance on Facebook. Maybe it is a stretch, but with all the focus on family and the plot of two long lost sisters connecting with each other I think there may be something there.

  3. Throughout this section Yahira and Camino’s perspectives on families change while they deal with the loss of their father. Camino finally learns that she has a sister. Despite the fact that she is hurt that her father lied to her her whole life, she is grateful for more family. Camino states, “I want to put my fingers/against my sister’s cheek./I want to put my face/in her neck & ask/if she hurts the way I do.” (136). This is proof that Camino’s father’s betrayal is an after thought, and that she longs for someone to share her grief with. On the other hand, Yahira and her mother are getting used to running a household without a man. Her Tio Jorge tries to help when the airline offers them half a million dollars, but Yahira’s mom dismisses him. Yahira states, “Mami cuts him off:”‘Jorge. You were your brother’s consentido./& I appreciate your advice./But the one who needed it was him,/& you didn’t offer it when he was here.'” (131) Not only does her mom stand up for herself and her daughter but it also seems like she is calling Jorge out for helping her husband maintain his second family.

    1. The Dominican Republic has become somewhat of a “playground,” where wealthy tourists flock to exploit the lands, resources, and even women and children. With their wealth, the tourists can get away with sexual assault. Sexual crimes also come with violence, elements that are rampant in local neighborhoods and the Dominican Republic as a whole (Acevedo).

  4. In this section of “Clap When You Land”, Elizabeth Acevedo gives us two details accounts of sexual violence each of the two sisters experienced. The biggest difference between the two accounts is the environment they happen in. Yahaira is sexually assaulted in a public train but is so paralyzed by it she freezes and even says it must have been happening for several train stops. When she finally processes what happens to her she wants to tell her father who is the best male she knows, and seek shelter within him. Even though she is in New York and has the freedom to fight back, she couldn’t because she didn’t know how. On the contrary side of things, Camino is in the Dominican Republic and is approached in a secluded area by El Cero who snatches her wrist and calls over a man he claims to be a “friend of her father”. When he gestures her over to his car so that he could talk to her more, she has no regard for what the two men could do to her if she fought back and fights them off and runs home. The two approaches seem to be based on the guardianship their father took for them when he was around. His approach with Camino had to be more hands off because of the majority of this time being spent in New York and his role with Yahaira was more hands on because he would take her everywhere for her chess lessons and tournaments. Camino and her life in the Dominican Republic had turned her into a fighter and a survivor and her approach to men was no different. But Yahaira’s growth in New York and the amount of fatherly bonding she was given made her freeze and unable to fight back her assailant despite all the people around her.

  5. In the second section of “Clap When You Land”, Elizabeth Acevedo illustrates the reality of how less fortunate Dominicans find access to health care and other means of obtaining medicine. More importantly, Elizabeth Acevedo shows the struggles but also the strengths between mutual families in the DR they have for each other in times of hardships. In Camino’s story, ‘19 Days After’, an emergency situation occurs where Carline is on the verge of giving birth, but with no option to go to a hospital. Camino and Tia Mabel are the ones assisting Carline to give birth at the house. “It’s not an easy thing to do, for a Haitian parent to bring their child to a Dominican hospital to give birth.” (p. 165) Indicating that there is conflict and perhaps prejudice between other races and that itself could prove to be an issue attempting to get health care regardless of being in a critical moment. Tia Mabel however, successfully helps deliver Carline’s premature baby boy after performing CPR on her own as well to save him. “Tia is only a healer woman with calloused hands, a commanding voice, with ointments & tea…” (p. 168) showing that alternative medicines are usually home remedies and perhaps generational beliefs. Instead of an actual doctor being available, the next best option was Tia Mabel to help Carline.

  6. In the reading for this week, we see examples of spirituality when we learn that Camino’s Tia is a Santera. Rooted in the spiritual beliefs of African slaves brought to DR as part of the slave trade, Santeria is a curious mix of these beliefs and Roman Catholicism. Catholicism, of course, was imposed on everyone on the island by the Spanish. In one scene, Camino describes how Tia wears all white to mourn, as “all white like this [showed] undue devotion to the Saints.” This choice in her outfit can signal to everyone, including priests, that she practices Santeria but Tia seems to be unfazed by it. Camino explains that the “priests don’t want to know what’s practiced in secret,” signaling to the reader that Santeria may be frowned upon by the Church. After finishing getting dressed in what can be considered a “blasphemous” outfit, however, Tia walks with Camino to the local Catholic church. With this, Elizabeth Acevedo demonstrates a duality of spirituality that Caribbeans may experience. On the one hand, they are fervent believers of the Catholic faith but, more importantly, their customs and upbringing may inform them that sometimes it’s best to ask the Santos for aid.

  7. Option 1
    Yahaira starts trying to remember how father never paid the attention that she needed him to later on in the story. We can see that when Yahaira was on the train ride to go to her championship game for chess, she gets sexually harassed by a man on the train for multiple stops. Instead of trying to create a scene she hides all her emotions and doesn’t do anything. She tried reaching out to her sad looking for words of encouragement but receives nothing multiple times and she felt lost in a way. Her dad only decided to reach out to her when he found out she quit the team and never tried asking her why and what happened, instead calling her stubborn and yelling at her. She never got to tell her dad what actually happened. I feel like her relationship with Dre continues to hold strong where we learn that she trusts her more than she trusts anyone in her own family and knows she is safe with her and can be as open as needs. However when we get to Camino, she in a way is similar to Yahaira’s situation where she gets bothered by El Cero but doesn’t say anything. She ends up realizing how much her dad was her protection because he would stand up for her from El Cero but since he isn’t there anymore she has no one. Is is scared to tell her Tia what happened because she doesn’t want her getting hurt while Tia keeps telling Yahaira she raised her better than this, but doesn’t know the truth. No one can stop El Cero anymore, her dad was her protection. I believe she wants to be close to her Tia but she just doesn’t want anything bad to happen to her so she keeps everything to herself. She is forced to focus on her future since she has no support in terms of money for school or even her own protection from her stalker.

  8. Camino’s notion of family is transformed in this section due to the recent passing of a father. Her life has completely changed and she has no one to rely upon. Although she lives with her aunt she does not truly feel comfortable enough to open up her true feelings about her life to her. Instead she finds a safe haven in her friend Carline as they both are enduring their own personal hardships. After her conversation with Carline she states “I am not the kind of girl who looks for approval.But a weight lifts off my chest” (pg 211). Showing that the built up emotions that she had were finally able to be released once she confided in her friend. Another aspect of a change is when Camino learns about her sister in the U.S. Emotions of betrayal from a father and a longing to see her sister arise and burdens her.

    Yahaira also faces a transformation with the family dynamic as the events surrounding her father’s death play out. She feels disconnected from her family as she believes she is the only one who truly knew her father’s secret of having another life in the Dominican Republic. With the knowledge of this secret it weighs on her Conscience heavily and precludes her from properly getting in touch with her true feelings. Similarly to Camino, Yahaira finds comfort in Dre. With her being the only one who truly knows how she feels.

  9. The author approaches access to health care and alternative medicine in this second part of the book, with giving examples of how little access to healthcare people in the island have based on their needs. For example, it is expensive for people to go to the hospital or even have emergency transportation to them. When Camino’s mother was sick she refused to go to a hospital because she knew it was expensive to go in an ambulance or even be in the hospital. The alternative for her was a friend from the family offer to use his car to take her, which she refused to accept to avoid getting him sick. These puts the people part of the community not be able to help one another, because they share the same circumstances of not having access to health care. Furthermore, when Camino’s friend was given birth, there was no light, she gave birth at home, and Camino’s tia was the one that helped deliver the baby. Since Camino’s friend is Haitian she might have been denied care compared to other patients, who are Dominican, that might have been seeking care in the hospital. Moreover, this puts an obstacle for people who aren’t Dominican and live in the island, because they can’t afford to get sick or have medical needs since they most likely would get denied access to them.

    1. I really agree with your comments on “Clap When You Land”‘s take on healthcare and alternative medicine. Both of the important situations that you mentioned regarding healthcare were life or death situations. Much can go wrong when giving birth and definitely with the conditions Carline was in plus her age made her chances worse. While I am for at-home births, this was not necessarily a route Carline chose for herself but was forced to with her living standards. Regarding Camino’s mother’s situation, she literally was on her death bed but still could not get the proper care because of money worries and issues. It was as if she almost chose her death over money issues. These instances show how people without proper healthcare have to make the hard decision between money and health, many of who choose the former. You also brought up a good point regarding the discrimination Haitians face in Dominican Republic’s health care system. Most people know that the history of discrimination in the Dominican Republic to Haitians and also how it seeps into their healthcare. Many Haitians migrate to the Dominican Republic for better healthcare, but because of discrimination face barriers to treatment. The author puts a highlight to this with Carline’s family.

    2. I also agree with your comments on how you talk about the take on health care and alternative medicine. This choice was definitely a life or death choice. Medicine and hospital bills tend to be a lot and with Camino’s mother, the problem she was going through was a serious manner and needed some medical attention but like said before the choice was a life or death choice. Similarly compared with Camino’s mother’s situation, being financially unstable is hard for people and things can go wrong. For Carline, when giving birth and with the conditions that Carline was going through during her age, things could’ve gone worse. Like Felicia said, she chose her death over the money issues she was going through.

  10. Option 3
    In “Clap When you Land” from pages 116-218 really highlights the toll that death has on a person.Yahaira has lost her father and her and her family are trying to learn to cop with it.However in the section of the text i want to talk about the Author Elizabeth Acevedo approaches to topic of sexual violence and the roll it plays more importantly on women in the society.After the death of her father and learning about his past history when it came two his second wife it made Yaharia second guess her father and mother as a whole and who they truly was.Yaharia comes it the person call El Cero alot and he is a person that constantly trying to peer pressure her into doin seual activities with him.After her father death its shown that she actually gets stronger as it is shown when she defies El cero in a more disrespectful manner to get him to understand.However in the society females constantly get blamed for actually attracting the man attention and that is what Tia was doing to Yahairia.It constantly this situation where in sexual assault the woman turns about the be the one blammed first instead if thw actual man who completed the deed.

  11. Her voice is stripped of any emotions 146
    I haven’t done anything wrong 148
    Our mothers & Tia’s, our bodies 149
    Are branded jungle gyms 149
    None of those things matter 142

    Her voice is stripped of any emotions 146
    Because in this moment, I am a girl a man stares at 142
    He just shows up, grinning, 148
    Somehow his stalking has turned into 147
    Something I must have done 147

    & when I felt a squeeze on my leg 165
    My skin vibrates. Electric to the touch 190
    Never let anyone see you sweat 135
    Her voice is stripped of any emotions 146

    & when I felt a squeeze on my leg 165
    I became a feast of anger 214
    I pray myself free 192

    Not us. Not me 150

  12. In this section of “Clap When You Land”, Elizabeth Acevedo uses both Camino and Yahaira to talk about the subject of sexual violence. Even though both girls are from two different worlds, they both face the very real of threat of predators that sadly women everywhere have to deal with on a daily basis. With Yahaira, it was the man on the train who assaulted her on the train. She talks about being frozen in place and feeling numb two things that women who are survivors of sexual assault said they felt as well. With Camino it’s the treat of El Cero who has been stalking her around the neighborhood and the man he sent to attack her. These are just two examples of sexual violence in the book that can feel very real to a reader who has experienced it or knows someone who has experienced sexual violence.

  13. Option #3

    In ” Clap When You Land” , the topic of spiritual practices is explored through the character of Tia, or Camino’s aunt. Tia is well known for her beliefs and spiritual practices” when Tia hosts a ceremony , the crowd outside is legion”(p205). Spiritual practices is not new to the author as she always participates and shares Tia beliefs in saints and spirits” Tia taught me to dance at the ceremonies(…) to the drums of the santero”(p205). Tia’s spiritual practices are seen and put into display when adding Carline deliver her baby , who everyone believed to be still born”She presses onto Carline’s belly; as a curandera, Tia is fierce, channeling something beyond herself” (p165). Tia is shown to be almost supernatural and able to perform miracles no thanks to her spiritual practices ” Tia is a woman woven of miracles(…) Tia’s a woman who speaks to the dead(….) She calls forward his life when it would retreat.(p168-169). She is revered in her community and sometimes seen as an alternative to the hospital. Although people may not to welcoming to her practices, they still come to her for guide and assistance ” A lot of people don’t fuck with that kind of thing here, they were always asking for Tia’s remedios and jarabes; for advice and prayer” .(p207) The community understands and respects Tia. Through her spiritual practices , Tia becomes a women of authority and a leader in a community and country that is normally male dominated. Her spiritual practices bring on a great deal of respects and power to Tia , that she uses for the good of everybody. The author uses this spiritual practice to free herself from life burdens and to ultimately find freedom” I pray myself free of pain as I spin in the circle(…) I pray myself free” (p208). The topic of spiritual practices is has many function in the story. It gives birth to Carmino’ s best friend son, heals and guides others, and ultimately used to help Camino during this time of grieving. It is interesting to see that this topic relates as well with another topic being alternative healthcare.

  14. Camino and Yahaira have never met, but they both share a father and have experienced the agony of losing him in an aircraft accident. For Camino, the death has left her with more than just sadness but a financial ticking bomb since it’s just a matter of time before they run out of money, and her goal of becoming a doctor vanishes. The secrets of her dad’s life are threatening to strangle Yahaira. Her father had a secret existence in the Dominican Republic with a second wife and a daughter, discovering by coincidence. The flight trip between the two locations served as a dividing line between his two personas, two lives that had never met before. Yahaira compares this parallel existence to the squares on a chessboard: each box is distinct, tightly confining itself so that nothing spills over into the next square. The death of a loved one can impact family relations by disrupting the family structure and forcing family members to reorganize. From the death of their father, both Camino and Yahaira’s notions of family are transformed. For instance, the mourning period results in overprotective behavior, increased closeness, thus tightening the family boundary, lack of privacy, and taking responsibility for other person’s feelings. The boundaries blur, the stories converge, and the daughters bleed into one other as we move further into each daughter’s pain. A new family emerges from the entanglement, from the pain of loss, one that is characterized no longer by the decisions and acts of the father but by survival and the love of women (Acevedo, pp. 216).

  15. In “Clap when you Land”, Elizabeth Acevedo addresses the topic of spirituality. We see this from Camino’s aunt Tia. Tia is a Santeria spiritual healer. Camino says ” Tia’s a women who speaks to the dead, who negotiates with spirits, [and] who loosens their fingers when they clutch around the neck of someone she wants to live” (p 168). People call on her when they are in emergencies even the people who are afraid of her and her magic. We see Tia’s practices reflected in the things she does. When her and Camino go to the priest, she wears all white which armors her in her saints. Camino says all white ” shows undue devotion to the Saints” (p 161). We also see Tia practicing her spirituality when she helps Camino’s best friend, Carline, deliver a baby. When Carline’s boyfriend comes to Tia for help, Tia brings her healer’s bag and we see her praying and calling on protective spirits. When the baby is stillborn, and it seems impossible to bring them back to life, Tia does. We also see spiritual practices when Tias altar is mentioned. On her altar she has offerings and photos of those who have passed. Tia passes her spiritual practices down and teaches Camino how to dance in ceremonies with her body and spirit. After Camino’s father’s death, Tia hosts a ceremony where the santero and practitioners come.

  16. A heartbreaking image of grieving follows the two sisters through their difficult journey of grieving their father while also beginning to feel deceived by the trickery of his way of living. She had aspirations of joining Columbia University and becoming a physician. Still, her father’s demise has put those plans on hold, and she has become a focus for El Cero, a womanizer who preys on vulnerable young women and sells them as sex slaves. A champ in the chess game, Yahaira stays with her mum, who runs a local spa, and her dad, who runs a pool hall and devotes his summer vacations in his indigenous Dominican Republic. It is not until the person they both refer to as Papi is involved in the accident of Flight 1112, Camino and Yahaira are oblivious of each other’s life. When Yahaira’s mum becomes overwhelmed by her grieving and is bombarded by selfish family members demanding a share of the crash settling, she decides to fly to the Dominican Republic to attend her dad’s funeral without her mum’s permission (Stevenson and Deborah pg 386-387).

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