When I Was Puerto Rican

Abuela Character Analysis

Abuela is Papi's mother and Negi's grandmother (“abuela” means grandmother in Spanish). She's an extremely religious woman and is very accomplished at crocheting. When Negi stays with Abuela, Abuela teaches her how to properly cross herself and how to crochet. Abuela is entirely aware that Papi sees other women besides Mami, and commiserates with Mami about him. Though Abuela is married to Abuelo, the two don't seem close.

Abuela Quotes in When I Was Puerto Rican

The When I Was Puerto Rican quotes below are all either spoken by Abuela or refer to Abuela. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Da Capo Press edition of When I Was Puerto Rican published in 2006.
5. Why Women Remain Jamona Quotes

I wondered if Mami felt the way I was feeling at this moment on those nights when she slept on their bed alone...whether the soft moans I heard coming from their side of the room were stifled sobs, like the ones that now pressed against my throat...

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi, Abuela
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other When I Was Puerto Rican quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

It seemed to me then that remaining jamona could not possibly hurt this much. That a woman alone, even if ugly, could not suffer as much as my beautiful mother did.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi, Abuela
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
9. Casi Señorita Quotes

She was overwhelmed by what she called "the sacrifices I have to endure for you kids," and my love, expressed in demands, added a greater burden.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Abuela
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire When I Was Puerto Rican LitChart as a printable PDF.
When i was puerto rican.pdf.medium

Abuela Character Timeline in When I Was Puerto Rican

The timeline below shows where the character Abuela appears in When I Was Puerto Rican. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
2. Fighting Naked
Identity Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...accuse Papi of seeing another woman when he says he's going to see his mother, Abuela. Negi hears them talk about Provi and Margie. One day, Negi asks Papi who Margie... (full context)
5. Why Women Remain Jamona
Family Theme Icon
...best dress, packs some clothes for her, and tells her she's going to stay with Abuela for a week. She promises that Papi will retrieve her the following Sunday. Papi dresses... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Romantic Love and Relationships Theme Icon
At Abuela's house, Abuela greets Negi warmly and inspects her. She then leads Negi and Papi inside... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Romantic Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Abuela shows Negi where she'll sleep and tells her to change into comfortable clothes. Abuela settles... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Romantic Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Negi begins to cry, but doesn't want Abuela to think that she doesn't want to be with her. Negi can hear Abuela saying... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Negi describes Abuelo's sparsely furnished room and then Abuela's opulent room, decorated with Catholic imagery and crochet. One afternoon, Abuela asks Negi if she'd... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
On Sunday morning, Abuela hands Negi her good dress and says that they're going to Mass. She hands Negi... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
...up and begins walking to the priest for communion, kicking Negi's shoe down the pew. Abuela tells Negi to stay put, and Negi begins to search for her shoe. She crawls... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Romantic Love and Relationships Theme Icon
That afternoon, Negi packs her bag and she and Abuela eat lunch. Abuela tells Negi to not change out of her dress in case Papi... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Abuela teaches Negi to pray and explains bits of the Lord's Prayer to her. She then... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Finally, days later, Mami arrives at Abuela's house. Mami is so pregnant Negi can barely hug her. Abuela greets Mami and offers... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Mami rubs her belly and mentions that it's hard with Papi gone all the time. Abuela sternly tells Negi to shower and change. Negi doesn't want to leave Mami and Abuela.... (full context)
Identity Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Women, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Romantic Love and Relationships Theme Icon
Negi wonders if men ever talk about their sorrows like Mami and Abuela are doing now. The sadness and pain is tangible, and Negi thinks that remaining jamona... (full context)
9. Casi Señorita
Identity Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Negi's new home is minutes away from Abuela's house. Negi often visits to eat guanimes, a food that Mami refuses to make because... (full context)