“Puertoricanness” Reading Response

In “Puertoricanness” by Aurora Levins Morales, the narrator speaks of a girl who feels as though she is reborn by breaking free from her constant suppression of her blood and heritage as a Puerto Rican woman. Throughout the text, she repeats 2 to 3 times that “it was Puerto Rico waking up inside her”, signifying a cease to the battle within her of being “more American and less Puerto Rican”.  The sound of the rooster teleports her to her very own island and serves as a sort of reminder of her roots and her mornings waking up in Puerto Rico as a child. This sense of breaking free of a self imprisonment slightly reminded me of Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour”, where similar to the woman of Levins’ story, Mrs. Mallard is liberated once she realizes she was free of her marriage to live a life of her own. Puerto Rico and all her ties to her island are suddenly awoken within her; ties that she knew have been within her since birth. She is undeniably a Puerto Rican woman and isn’t going to conform for the validation of someone else.

I found one part very relatable as a Caribbean girl, where Levins’ describes the habits of the “Puertoricanness” that lived within her. Habits like leaving a pot of food on the stove to reheat “whenever hunger struck”. These habits are what make her, and she had felt embarrassed of her true self for so long. By suppressing who she was beneath what she presented herself as, she kept her Puertoricanness caged and hidden, failing to be true to herself and yearning to be someone she wasn’t. Social standards can urge people to alter themselves just to blend in and conform, and by regaining this realization the girl is liberated and fully embracing the real her. I think Aurora Levins Morales gives a clear message about embracing your truest form, and being yourself undeniably and whole heartedly despite what may be “socially acceptable”.  To blend and conform is to lose who we really are, which is a waste of precious time and life.

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