When I Was Puerto Rican

Mami Character Analysis

Mami is Negi's mother. She's a light-skinned woman and in Negi's perception, is always pregnant. By the end of the memoir, Mami has 11 children. Though she and Papi love each other and spend 14 years in an on-again off-again relationship, they're never married. During times when the fighting gets particularly bad or Papi is gone for long periods of time without explanation, Mami packs up her children and moves them to Santurce, where she has a vast web of family to call on for help. She loves Papi, but she also believes that he sees other women behind her back and believes that this is to be expected of men in general. She desperately wants to be self-sufficient and as such, she's one of the first mothers in Macún to get a job outside the home, sewing bras in a factory. Though this makes her days particularly long (she cooks breakfast and supper for her children in the morning before she leaves), she takes pride in her work and loves having a job. Despite the fact that she cares deeply for her children and makes sure they're fed, dressed, and in school, Mami is often violent and abusive towards them. She demands complete submission and administers beatings when the children fail to comply, though Negi suffers the most. Mami is, however, more reliable than Papi. When Papi refuses to marry Mami, Mami moves her children to Brooklyn and continues to work in bra factories. At this point, Negi realizes that Mami is the only family member she can count on to always be there for her. Mami fully believes that with hard work her children can get ahead, and she encourages them to do well in school so they can go to college.

Mami Quotes in When I Was Puerto Rican

The When I Was Puerto Rican quotes below are all either spoken by Mami or refer to Mami. 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.
1. Jíbara Quotes

Even at the tender age when I didn't yet know my real name, I was puzzled by the hypocrisy of celebrating a people everyone looked down on. But there was no arguing with Mami, who, in those days, was always right.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Does anyone call Titi Merín Esmeralda?"
"Oh, sure. People who don't know her well—the government, her boss. We all have our official names, and then our nicknames, which are like secrets that only the people who love us use."

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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Doña Zena dragged Delsa and Norma into her yard, while I straggled behind, fretting about what had just happened, jealous that, even though my lap had been stolen years ago by Delsa and then Norma, another baby was coming to separate me further from my mother, whose rages were not half so frightening as the worry that she would now be so busy with an infant as to totally forget me.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Delsa, Norma, Héctor
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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2. Fighting Naked Quotes

Chief among the sins of men was the other woman, who was always a puta, a whore. My image of these women was fuzzy, since there were none in Macún, where all the females were wives or young girls who would one day be wives.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi, Provi
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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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:

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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:

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6. Mami Gets a Job Quotes

But until Gloria asked, I'd never put it together that in order for me and my four sisters and two brothers to be born, Papi had to do to Mami what roosters did to hens, bulls did to cows, horses did to mares.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi, Gloria
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

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"I can't count on anyone from outside the family. Besides, you're old enough to be more responsible."
And with those words Mami sealed a pact she had designed, written, and signed for me.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bras
Page Number: 123
Explanation and Analysis:

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What makes them so good and me so bad?

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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10. Dreams of a Better Life Quotes

Each man who did a double take or pledged to love her forever, to take her home with him, to give his life for her, took her away from me. She had become public property—no longer the mother of seven children, but a woman desired by many.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 190
Explanation and Analysis:

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I called up the images of Armando or Ricardo, and with Mami and Papi's shrill fights as background, I imagined a man and woman touching one another gently, discovering beauty in a stubbled cheek or a curl of hair, whispering adoring words into each other's ear, warming one another's bodies with love.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi
Related Symbols: Armando and Ricardo
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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Is that what you want? Marriage? What would that do? I've recognized them all. They all have my last name...

Related Characters: Papi (speaker), Negi, Mami
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

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It didn't seem possible that he was a good man when he wasn't fighting for her or for us. He was letting us go to New York as if it no longer mattered where we were, as if the many leavings and reconciliations had exhausted him, had burned out whatever spark had made him search for us in swamps and fetid lagoons.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi
Page Number: 208
Explanation and Analysis:

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11. Angels on the Ceiling Quotes

I hadn't done any of the things women did to get men interested. I'd been minding my own business at home...It was alarming, and at once I realized why Mami always told me to be más disimulada when I stared at people, which meant that I should pretend I wasn't interested.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

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12. You Don't Want to Know Quotes

Mami became, even more than before, both mother and father to us. We could count on her in a way we had never been able to count on Papi, Tata, or Francisco, who had made everyone happy for such a short time before dying and becoming a ghost that haunted us all for the rest of our lives.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Papi, Tata, Francisco
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

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But more and more I suspected Mami's optimism was a front. No one, I thought, could get beat down so many times and still come up smiling.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Hit me, go ahead. You can kill me if that makes you feel better," I screamed loud enough for the world to hear. I stood in front of her, shaking all over, hands at my sides, martyrlike, fully aware of the dramatic moment that might backfire but willing to take the chance.

Related Characters: Negi (speaker), Mami, Tata
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mami Character Timeline in When I Was Puerto Rican

The timeline below shows where the character Mami appears in When I Was Puerto Rican. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: How to Eat a Guava
Identity Theme Icon
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...the guavas to ripen. Underripe guavas are hard and sour. Negi says that at night, Mami would make her drink castor oil while saying that castor oil tastes better than a... (full context)
1. Jíbara
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...and sits up on stilts. Negi touches a hot metal wall and burns herself, and Mami scolds her before rubbing Vick's VapoRub on the burn. Papi replaces parts of the floor... (full context)
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...Papi pulls up the floor, Negi helps him collect the nails that are still useable. Mami calls for Negi to help gather kindling, but Negi insists on helping Papi. Papi ignores... (full context)
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Mami leads Negi to a thicket. A butterfly flies close to Mami's head and she swats... (full context)
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...put them in the pile of wood for the kitchen fire. Negi tries to avoid Mami, but Mami asks to see the board. Mami starts screaming that the board, and now... (full context)
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...hung from the ceiling, and a curtain separated the children's side of the house from Mami and Papi's bed. When Papi works, he leaves before dawn, but when he doesn't work,... (full context)
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...of bed and runs to her parents, who are sitting behind the shed drinking coffee. Mami inspects Negi's termite bites and instructs her to stay out of the sun. Papi hums... (full context)
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...on real jíbaros while celebrating the jíbaro arts, but says that there's no arguing with Mami. (full context)
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Delsa and Norma come out for their oatmeal. Negi says that Mami calls Delsa "Muñequita" (little doll) and Norma "La Colorá" (colored one). She says she thought... (full context)
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When Papi puts in the new floor, Mami asks Negi and Delsa to find stones to plug the holes in the dirt floor... (full context)
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Negi and Delsa creep past Mami, who looks very angry. As they pass her, Mami hits both girls on their heads.... (full context)
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Several days later, Negi wakes to Mami groaning. Negi gets up and asks Mami if she's okay, and Mami tells Negi she's... (full context)
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Negi doesn't understand why they have to leave and thinks that she never put Mami's swollen belly together with babies. She realizes that another baby is going to put even... (full context)
2. Fighting Naked
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Negi explains to the reader that Mami and Papi surely argued before baby Héctor was born, but after his birth, the fights... (full context)
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Negi goes to look for Mami and finds her behind the house crying. Negi tries to approach her, but Mami yells... (full context)
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...come home for days. When he finally comes home, he sits at the table and Mami angrily serves him supper. Mami puts Negi and her sisters to bed, nurses Héctor, and... (full context)
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Papi gets up and tells Mami she'll wake the children, but Mami continues her tirade. She asks if Papi's friends and... (full context)
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...to not leave them and Delsa and Norma join the cry. Héctor begins wailing as Mami starts yelling and throwing Papi's clothes outside. She bolts the door, sits in the rocking... (full context)
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Negi often hears Mami accuse Papi of seeing another woman when he says he's going to see his mother,... (full context)
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...keep up with Negi's games unlike little Norma or Delsa. The next day, Negi asks Mami why she doesn't like Provi, and Mami tells her to never talk about "that woman."... (full context)
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Mami and Papi's fights continue, and Negi and her siblings tiptoe around their parents as to... (full context)
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Negi wonders how Papi manages to convince Mami to forgive him. Negi knows for certain that because Papi is a man, he's the... (full context)
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...figure out, as someone can get beat up for anything. Negi tries to explain to Mami one day why her uniform is ripped, and Mami forbids Negi from fighting in school.... (full context)
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...day, Negi arrives at home to find her belongings bundled into pillowcases and a suitcase. Mami leads her children up the road, where they finally board a public car. Mami tells... (full context)
3. Someone is Coming to Take Your Lap
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Negi explains that whenever Mami gets fed up with Macún or with Papi, she runs away to Santurce. Santurce is... (full context)
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...day, Negi enrolls in first grade. Her new school is large with a real playground. Mami tells Negi to not look at or talk to anyone on her walk to or... (full context)
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...songs. Papi visits, and once he brings string lights and helps the children hang them. Mami spends most of her time in the kitchen cooking while relatives sit at their table.... (full context)
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...Rita wears a low cut dress and lots of jewelry, as well as high heels. Mami doesn't like Rita, but Negi does. Negi hears Mami talking about Rita to her friends.... (full context)
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One day, Negi asks Mami about the shiny "ribbons" strung up in the neighbor's yard, and Mami explains that they're... (full context)
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That night, Negi worries that Mami's moans will keep the Three Magi from coming and filling her shoes with candy and... (full context)
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...return to Macún. Negi is thrilled and wants to run all over the land, but Mami pulls her back down into her seat when she stands up. When they arrive, Negi... (full context)
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As Mami guts a chicken one afternoon, she calls Negi to come and look at the hen's... (full context)
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...Negi and Juanita sit with him often and listen to his jíbaro stories. One morning, Mami tells Negi that Juanita won't be at school that day because Don Berto died. Negi... (full context)
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Mami spends her day at Juanita's house getting it and Don Berto's body ready for the... (full context)
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Mami dresses Negi in her best dress and they go to Juanita's house. The adults give... (full context)
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...days of prayer) for Don Berto. He asks Negi if she'd like to come, and Mami allows her to go with a sweater. As Negi and Papi walk, Negi asks what... (full context)
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...American is going to build a hotel on the land. Back at home, Negi asks Mami about the hotel. Mami says that people have been talking about the hotel and electricity... (full context)
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Negi sits in the back yard with her siblings and listens to Mami scream as she labors. At dusk, their neighbor's daughter, Gloria, comes to get Negi and... (full context)
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The first week in May, it begins to rain and Mami yells at the children to take off their clothes. Mami steps out of her dress... (full context)
4. The American Invasion of Macún
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...meeting for their parents where experts will speak to the parents about nutrition and hygiene. Mami assures Negi that they'll go to the meeting. (full context)
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...plan for the children, and they convince older girls to watch the younger children outside. Mami asks Negi to watch her siblings. Negi ushers the children outside but sits with Edna... (full context)
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Finally, the experts give the mothers groceries and toothbrushes. Mami unpacks the groceries and remarks that if the experts had just given them a bag... (full context)
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...and feels something wiggling in her panties. She sees that it's a worm and screams. Mami inspects Negi's bottom and sits her in a bath of warm salt water to draw... (full context)
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Another morning, Miss Jiménez tells her students that they'll be vaccinated for polio. When Mami fills out the consent forms for Negi and Delsa, she tells them how horrible polio... (full context)
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Another day, Mami unpacks a box of hand-me-down clothes from Tata. Mami is pregnant again and she puts... (full context)
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Negi loves writing letters and relishes the opportunity to write to Tata. When she finishes, Mami reads the letter out loud. She insists that Negi made a mistake by not starting... (full context)
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...The matron grabs Negi, forces her out the door, and says she needs to tell Mami what happened. Negi trudges home and decides to lie to Mami about what happened. She... (full context)
5. Why Women Remain Jamona
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One Sunday, Mami dresses Negi in her best dress, packs some clothes for her, and tells her she's... (full context)
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...from their houses. She wonders where Papi went and remembers Margie and Provi. She remembers Mami claiming that it's in a man's nature to not be faithful. Negi wonders if that's... (full context)
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...crochet, unwilling to admit that Papi isn't coming. Negi thinks of all the nights that Mami kept food warm for Papi in case he arrived, washed his clothes, and ironed them.... (full context)
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Finally, days later, Mami arrives at Abuela's house. Mami is so pregnant Negi can barely hug her. Abuela greets... (full context)
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Mami rubs her belly and mentions that it's hard with Papi gone all the time. Abuela... (full context)
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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... (full context)
6. Mami Gets a Job
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...since 1918. Negi asks Papi why they name hurricanes after saints, but he doesn't know. Mami tells Negi to take the kids to Doña Ana's house, and the kids solemnly accept... (full context)
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After the hurricane, Mami talks with Doña Lola about the damage. Negi's family lost their kitchen shed and their... (full context)
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One day, Mami asks Negi to help hook her into a brassiere that's nearly too small. She already... (full context)
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Mami begins rising before Papi, cooking dinner, dressing, and giving Negi instructions before leaving for work.... (full context)
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One day, Mami gets up to go to work and gets the children off to school, but when... (full context)
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One day, Negi and Mami are at Doña Lola's house. Mami tells Doña Lola with pride that she enjoys her... (full context)
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Tato suggests that he and Negi go play outside. Mami suspiciously allows Negi to go, and Negi fears that Mami knows what they're actually going... (full context)
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...and continues to taunt Negi. Negi calls him sick and runs away. She runs into Mami coming out of Doña Lola's house, and they head home. Mami asks what Negi and... (full context)
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Doña Lola and Mami run to see what the fuss is about, and Tato tells them that Negi kicked... (full context)
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Gloria returns and lives with her new husband behind her mother's house. Mami goes back to work, and Negi and her siblings spend their days at Gloria's house.... (full context)
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As one of the first mothers in Macún to get a job outside the home, Mami's family begins to attract gossip and resentment. Negi understands that Mami is breaking a taboo,... (full context)
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At first, Mami working outside the home makes things easier: Mami is proud and happy with her work,... (full context)
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...apart and pulls out Raymond's foot, and others take Raymond to the hospital and fetch Mami and Papi. Negi feeds her siblings dinner and fears what will happen when Mami returns.... (full context)
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...take shelter from the rain under a tree. Negi finally runs home, but runs into Mami and the children at the public car stop. Mami says she almost left Negi behind,... (full context)
7. El Mangle
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...a lagoon filled with sewage. On her first morning there, Negi wakes early and tells Mami she has to use the bathroom. Mami leads Negi to the bathroom, which is a... (full context)
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Doña Andrea appears at the door and asks what's going on. Mami explains that Negi is afraid of the bathroom, and she and Doña Andrea laugh. Negi... (full context)
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...so they don't fall into the lagoon. Negi is bored with nothing to do, since Mami won't sign them up for school until she finds work. Mami wants to rent the... (full context)
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One day, Mami takes Negi by the hand and points out the pipe connected to the faucet. She... (full context)
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Sometimes Mami lets Negi sit on a boat beside Doña Andrea's house. Negi sits in the boat... (full context)
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One day, Mami asks Negi to do something very special. She tells Negi that a woman's baby boy... (full context)
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Negi gets dressed and comments that she looks like she's going to make communion. Mami chuckles, and Negi wonders if the Virgin Mary won't protect her like she does Catholic... (full context)
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...Negi takes her hand away and rubs her fingers against her dress. She runs to Mami and tells her she wants to go home. (full context)
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Mami speaks to the women for a minute as Negi keeps saying she wants to go... (full context)
8. Letters From New York
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...the woman he's singing about even if he says his heart is closed, just like Mami and Papi do. (full context)
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After Papi found Mami and the children, he convinced Mami to forgive him and the family moved to a... (full context)
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...develops a fever and blisters on his foot. Doctors want to amputate his foot, but Mami won't let them. She comforts Raymond one night and vows to find a specialist for... (full context)
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One day, Mami receives a letter from Tata. She gives Negi a personal note from Tata, which is... (full context)
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...one night. Papi sounds angry and gets out of bed. He doesn't return for days. Mami can't work regularly since she has to care for Raymond, but she makes a deal... (full context)
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One day, Negi comes home to see laundry strung up in their front room. Mami explains that she's ironing for the laundry down the street, and Negi notes that ironing... (full context)
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...the landlord fences the backyard and leads a pig into the enclosure. Right before Christmas, Mami, Papi, the landlord, and the neighbors all help slaughter the pig. The entire neighborhood gathers... (full context)
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Several weeks later, Mami tells Negi that she's taking her to spend a few days with her cousins, Gladys... (full context)
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...convert her to be dull like other Evangelicals she's met. Negi goes downstairs and asks Mami if they can leave, and Mami reminds Negi that she's staying for a few days.... (full context)
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They pray before dinner and then Tío Lalo asks Mami how long she'll be in New York. Negi is in disbelief that Mami didn't tell... (full context)
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...beat her, but Negi won't engage. She wonders where her siblings are, and figures that Mami has probably moved to New York permanently and given Negi away. Finally when Gladys starts... (full context)
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...She sits in the living room and reads a religious magazine while she waits for Mami. Mami never comes. When Tío Lalo closes his store and comes inside, he tells her... (full context)
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Mami finally returns with presents. Negi gets a yellow handbag with a mirror. Mami gives Angie,... (full context)
9. Casi Señorita
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...Negi is angry that nobody asked why the lady was snooping. A neighbor suggests that Mami send the children to church, and Mami agrees. She bathes everyone and buttons them into... (full context)
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Negi mentions her dreams of playing piano to Papi. He and Mami fight over whether she should—Mami objects to the cost and Negi's prospective teacher, Don Luis.... (full context)
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Mami begins walking Negi to her lessons. She only insists that Negi wear clean clothes, but... (full context)
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...and yells at him. Feeling ashamed, angry, and dirty, Negi runs home. When she tells Mami and Papi, they stop the lessons immediately. Mami goes to speak with Don Luis herself,... (full context)
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...is minutes away from Abuela's house. Negi often visits to eat guanimes, a food that Mami refuses to make because they're labor intensive. Abuelo died the year before, and one day... (full context)
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After Mami leaves, Titi Generosa comes to stay with Negi and her siblings. Negi likes her a... (full context)
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...one morning he takes Negi to Tío Lalo's house to stay. When Negi asks when Mami is coming home, Papi answers as if he doesn't care when she returns. Negi falls... (full context)
10. Dreams of a Better Life
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When Mami returns for Negi at Tío Lalo's house, she tells Negi and Angelina that when she... (full context)
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As Mami and Negi walk to the bus, men stare, whistle, and catcall Mami. Mami ignores them.... (full context)
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...the first time. She gets up when she hears the rooster crow and tiptoes to Mami and Papi's room. She walks in to find her parents sitting in bed naked, and... (full context)
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As Negi dreams these fantasies, Mami and Papi's relationship gets even worse. Though they've been together 14 years, they're not married.... (full context)
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Negi asks Mami what to do if a boy offers to carry her books. Mami says to let... (full context)
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Mami tells Negi to invite Johannes to the house, but Negi starts to cry when Mami... (full context)
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...special interest in a nearby gardenia bush that has never flowered. She asks Papi and Mami how to help the gardenia flower, and she begins pruning and watering the bush. One... (full context)
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Mami appears with the rest of Negi's siblings and greets Johannes. Negi is embarrassed and, at... (full context)
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Negi reenters the living room and asks Johannes if he'd like to "see a tree." Mami rolls her eyes, but Johannes follows Negi outside. She asks Johannes what he's doing at... (full context)
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One day Mami leaves Negi at home to watch the children while she takes Edna and Raymond shopping.... (full context)
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...leans against a mango tree and puffs her chest out as the man watches, until Mami interrupts Negi's reverie. (full context)
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Negi buttons her blouse and the man walks back towards a rich man's house. Mami asks who the man is and Negi feigns ignorance. Mami sends Negi inside, telling her... (full context)
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The fighting between Mami and Papi escalates even further. Negi hears them breaking things as they yell, but she... (full context)
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...that she doesn't like it. Papi seems happy and Negi pouts. Papi tells Negi that Mami is talking about moving to New York, shocking Negi. Papi calls to Mami to confirm.... (full context)
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Papi insists that he doesn't know what Mami wants. Mami says she wants him to marry her, but Papi insists that he's done... (full context)
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Mami begins to prepare for the move to New York. She buys suitcases and decides that... (full context)
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Papi drives Negi, Mami, Raymond, and Edna to the airport. He unloads their bags and kisses them goodbye. He... (full context)
11. Angels on the Ceiling
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Mami admires the airplane stewardesses and suggests that Negi might want to be a stewardess one... (full context)
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In Brooklyn, Negi's plane lands. Mami gathers her children and they join the exiting passengers. Mami points them towards a tall... (full context)
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...finally gets a taxi. The driver doesn't speak Spanish and keeps asking questions in English. Mami tells him they're from Puerto Rico, and the driver begins a long speech that Negi... (full context)
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...child, but she doesn't remember him. He smells of beer. Don Julio and Chico unload Mami's belongings while Tata opens a beer and gets Negi something to eat. Don Julio and... (full context)
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...decorated with cherubs, and the building is the nicest Negi has ever lived in. Later, Mami takes Negi with her to the market. When Negi stares at two Jewish men in... (full context)
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Mami takes Negi to Williamsburg. Negi wonders what "kosher" means, and Mami buys Negi pizza. She... (full context)
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Mami takes Negi to school on her first day. Negi has her report card and Mami... (full context)
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Mami is impressed with Negi. Negi proudly tells Mami that she can walk home from school... (full context)
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Negi comes home from school one day to find Mami packed and waiting. Tata helps Mami and Negi load their things into a cab to... (full context)
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...school to learn English, so Negi is the only one attending junior high. She disobeys Mami once and cuts across the projects to get there and doesn't understand all the graffiti.... (full context)
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One day, Negi asks Mami for a bra. Mami laughs and says she can have one when she's señorita. A... (full context)
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While Mami works in Manhattan, Tata watches the children after school. Tata begins drinking wine or beer... (full context)
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Mami falls in love with Francisco, a younger man who lives across the street. He buys... (full context)
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...confused: she hadn't acted provocatively, dressed up, or even smiled, but now she understands why Mami always tells her to pretend she isn't interested when people approach her. (full context)
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...driver happened even though she didn't mean to give him anything. Negi goes to find Mami, who asks Negi what's wrong. Negi doesn't tell Mami what happened but feels like it... (full context)
12. You Don't Want to Know
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Mami's belly starts getting bigger around the same time that Francisco is diagnosed with cancer. Mami... (full context)
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...Brooklyn. When Negi's siblings arrived, however, they told Negi that Papi married another woman after Mami left Puerto Rico and sent the children to live with other relatives. Negi confirms this... (full context)
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Mami leaves the house every morning to work in bra factories in Manhattan. She works her... (full context)
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...and offers her a quarter to open her blouse. Negi refuses and threatens to tell Mami. The following day, Chico pinches Negi's nipple as he walks behind her. He tells her... (full context)
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One day, Mami tells Negi that she has to go with her to the welfare office the next... (full context)
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...often translates for other women in the welfare office. These women are little different from Mami, though Negi can tell that some of them are lying about their situations. Other women... (full context)
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When Negi arrives home one day with a stack of books, Mami screams at her for being out late and talking back. Tata tries to call Mami... (full context)
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...in the subway. After that, Negi sits by the window every night and watches for Mami coming up the street. Negi lives in fear that someone is going to rape her... (full context)
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Negi realizes that though Mami had enforced similar rules in Puerto Rico to keep the children from hurting themselves, in... (full context)
13. A Shot At It
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...Mr. Barone calls Negi back to his office. Negi remembers watching a beauty pageant with Mami the night before and the way that Mami commented on the contestants' beauty. Negi tells... (full context)
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...She decides one day that she has to get out of Brooklyn; she's done following Mami. When she cries at Mami that she hates her life, Mami yells at her to... (full context)
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Mami buys Negi a red plaid jumper. The night before the audition, she curls Negi's hair,... (full context)
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Mami asks Negi what happened. Negi tries not to cry. She studies a bulletin board full... (full context)
Epilogue: One of These Days
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...tells her mentor that she's the only one of her siblings at school, and says Mami had 11 children by the time Negi graduated. Her mentor asks Negi if she ever... (full context)
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...had told them that she had nothing to wear, and they asked to speak to Mami. Negi, in tears, interpreted for Mami that Negi had to go to the welfare office... (full context)