Make Your Home Among Strangers


Jennine Capó Crucet

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Make Your Home Among Strangers: Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Everyone else on the ride-share van has disembarked except for Lizet and the “imaginary profesora.” Lizet studies the woman, and notices that she is visibly crying. The woman pulls herself together and opens up a compact mirror to adjust her makeup, at which point she realizes Lizet is looking at her. The profesora apologizes for “being weird,” and then asks Lizet if she is also headed to Hialeah. Lizet lies and says that she is. The profesora asks Lizet where she went to high school, and when Lizet doesn’t answer right away, says that she herself went to Hialeah Gardens. Lizet replies that she went to Hialeah Lakes, to which the profesora replies, “That’s rough.”
At school, Lizet has to contend with people feeling pity for her because she comes from an “underserved” school—and now, even in Miami, Lizet has encountered someone who has the same kind of pity and awe when learning where Lizet was educated.
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Lizet asks the woman if she was crying—she admits that she was, and tells Lizet that she is visiting home from Michigan, where she is in the final year of her postdoc. The woman asks where Lizet goes, and when Lizet answers “Rawlings College,” the profesora is visibly impressed, noting that Rawlings is one of the top liberal art schools in the entire country. The profesora profusely congratulates Lizet on getting into such a prestigious school—especially from a high school as tough as Lakes. The woman asks how Lizet is doing in her classes, and when Lizet, choosing to be vulnerable, answers honestly that she’s doing “bad,” the profesora corrects her. “You’re doing badly,” she says, “Not bad.” Lizet, embarrassed, feels her eyes fill with tears.
Though the profesora is impressed by the fact that Lizet attends Rawlings, she turns their positive interaction into an embarrassing one when she condescendingly corrects Lizet’s speech. This interaction, though cruel, is important to Lizet—as she gets older, she will learn more and more about what it means to leave Miami and return as a new person who has “risen above” one’s circumstances. Lizet will eventually see that the profesora couldn’t help making this observation—her inappropriate remark foreshadows the ambivalence Lizet will have about her own developing “double vision” in regards to her identity.
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The profesora begins to apologize, but the shuttle driver calls her stop. Before leaving the van, she hands Lizet her business cards, and strongly urges her to keep in touch. They are both girls from Hialeah who left for “better things,” the profesora says, and as such they should “stick together.” Lizet only nods. As soon as the profesora is out of the van, Lizet rips the card up into several pieces and drops them all onto the floor of the van. The driver heads onward to Little Havana.
Though the profesora makes a gesture of good faith, it is too late—Lizet has been hurt, and wants no part of whatever solidarity or support the profesora is offering.
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