The large, gaudy, and rather sad quinceañera party Julia’s Amá and Apá throw for her is a symbol of their desire to transform Julia into the “perfect Mexican daughter” they believe her deceased older sister Olga always was. Shortly after Olga’s death, when Amá announces that she plans to use her savings to throw Julia the traditional party (which takes place on or around Latina girls’ fifteenth birthdays and symbolizes their entry into adulthood,) Julia is scandalized and even disgusted. She points out that she’s already almost sixteen, and doesn’t want the party to boot; Amá and Apá, however, insist on throwing it, explaining that they never got the chance to give Olga a party and are not going to make the same mistake twice. During the party, Julia is dressed up in a frilly and ridiculous peach gown, made to perform ritual dances and ceremonies, and has to put up with her entire family: all things she hates. Throughout the party Julia is visibly uncomfortable. She gorges herself on cake and wishes she had a book to read so that she wouldn’t have to greet so many people. The party comes to symbolize, both for the reader and for Julia, the ways that her family want to push her into being a “perfect Mexican daughter,” the fact that she never will become such a thing, and the pain and discomfort that this clash between what her parents blindly want and what she is will always produce.
Julia’s Quinceañera Quotes in I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Amá just shakes her head. “You know, Julia, maybe if you knew how to behave yourself, to keep your mouth shut, your sister would still be alive. Have you ever thought about that?” She finally says it. She says what her big, sad eyes were telling me all along.