Heritage

Jabbari Edwards
Professor Murphy
November 2, 2009
Eng 1101


Analysis of “Heritage” by Lorna Dee Cervantes

In the poem “Heritage” by Lorna Dee Cervantes the speaker goes back to the place of her
families decent to find her heritage, only to discover despise and hatred from her people.
Although she is of the same decent and race of the people the see her as a traitor because she was
raised American. The poems imagery shows how harsh the people are acting towards Lorna Dee
Cervantes and describes the setting. The poem gives the impression that heritage is an object.
This shows that in Mexican culture heritage is more than skin deep a person has to
actually live their culture and heritage to be accepted.
Throughout the poem Cervantes describes how she is gets a negative vibe from the citizens.
The poem is set in the streets of Oaxaca Mexico. The poem gives the reader the notion that
Lorna is not being welcomed with opened arms. The author states “The children run to
me/laughing, spinning me blind and silly /they call to me in words of another language” (lines 3-
5). These lines show the children are making fun of her, the lines also emphasize her confusion.
The poet does not truly understand why she is being treated in this manner. Throughout the poem
the people continue show their disapproval of her by calling her names, for example the author
states “But Mexico gags ESPUTA”(lines 10-11). Esputa means spit and she is a prostitute. The
people may be calling her these names because she is dressed like an American and they see that
she is not the same as them. Although she has not tried to separate herself she will always be
separated because she was born American. She is just trying to find her self and her heritage
In the poem the author mentions her name twice, although she can look the part and act as
if she is one of the natives she cannot let her name go. The author states in the poem “My name
hangs about me like a loose tooth”(line 12). Her name is something she cannot get rid of, it will
always be with her. Lorna is a name of English decent. “They give me a name/ that fights
me”.(lines16-17) She cannot seem to fit in with the people as long as this is her name “Old
women know my secret /es la culpa de los antepasados (its the fault of the ancestors)” .(lines 13-
14). Her parents gave the name and let her grow up thinking as an American. She uses metaphors
and similes about her name. The people see her as ignorant due to her lack of knowledge about
her heritage. She should not be blamed for being oblivious to her culture it is her parent fault for
not teaching her.
The poem uses allusion to show that she is in search of her heritage as if it is an object.
“Heritage I look for you all day in the streets of Oaxaca”. (lines 1-2) these lines show that she is
making a conscious effort to find out about her heritage. In the poem the author says“`My brown
body searches the streets /for the dye that color my thoughts”. (lines 6-7) In this line the dye
represents heritage in which she is in search of.
“Heritage” by Lorna Dee Cervantes is about Mexican heritage. The poet uses
many poetic devices throughout the poem to show the given theme. He uses allusions to show s
he is searching for heritage. Although she is making an attempt to find her heritage the people
are not accepting her. Her being born American has separated her from her ancestors original
heritage. The poems theme is heritage not just being seen someone’s decent and race it is how
someone goes about living their everyday life from the way that person dresses to where he or
she lives to her name everything that person does is a part, and someone will not be accepted as
long as they do not live by these guidelines of the Mexican culture.

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