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1. What are some notable quotes from The Money by Junot Diaz? 2….

1. What are some notable quotes from The Money by Junot Diaz?

2. What are the conflicts in The Money?

3. Give an analysis of the characters from The Money?

4. What is the theme statement from The Money?


5. What are some notable quotes from American History by Judith Ortiz Cofer 

6. What are the conflicts in American History in the short story?

7. Give an analysis of the characters from American History the short story?

8. What is the theme statement from American History in the short story?

*The first story typed is the money and the second is American history I have bolded The money all the text afterward is American history.


This an essay on the one time my family apartment was broken into while we were away on vacation and how I solved the Mystery of the Stupid Morons. Appeared in The New Yorker, June 13, 2011

All the Dominicans I knew in those days sent money home.  My mother certainly did.  She didn’t have a regular job outside of caring for us five kids so she scrimped the loot together from whatever came her way.  My father was always losing his forklift job so it wasn’t like she had a steady flow ever.  But my mother would rather have died than not send money back home to my grandparents in Santo Domingo.  They were alone down there and those remittances, beyond material support, were a way, I suspect, for Mami to negotiate the absence, the distance caused by our diaspora.  Hard times or not she made it happen.  She chipped dollars off from the cash Papi gave her for our daily expenses, forced forcing already broke family to live even broker.  In those times when nobody gave a damn about nutrition we alone among our friends never had juice, soda, snacks in our apartment. Not ever.  And you can forget about eating at McDonald’s or having clothes with real labels.  The family lived tight and that was how she built the nut that she sent home every six months or so to the grandparents

We’re not talking about a huge amount either.  Two, maybe three hundred dollars.  But in Santo Domingo of those years, in the weor  in which my abuelos lived, that 300 smackers was the difference between life with meat and life without, between electricity and stone age.  All of us kids knew where that money was hidden too—our apartment wasn’t huge—but we all also knew that to touch it would have meant neighbourhoodwerea violence approaching death.  I, who could take the change out of my mother’s purse without even thinking, couldn’t have brought myself to even look at that forbidden stash.

So what happened?  Exactly what you would think.  The summer I was 12 my family went away on a ‘vacation’—one of my father’s half-baked get-to-know-our-country-better sleep-in-the-van extravaganzas—and when we returned to Jersey, exhausted, battered, we found that our front door unlocked.  Stuff was knocked over, including the empty Presidente can my mother considered a decoration.  My parents’ room which was where the thieves had concentrated their search looked like it had been tornado tossed.  The thieves had kept it simple; they’d snatched a portable radio, some of my Dungeon and Dragon hardcovers and of course: the remittances my mother had kept hidden back in a drawer.

It’s not like the robbery came as some huge surprise.  In our neighborhood cars and apartments were always getting jacked and the kid stupid enough to leave a bike unattended for more than .1 seconds was the kid who was never going to see that bike again.  There was no respect.  Everybody got hit; no matter who you were eventually it was your turn.

And that summer it was ours.

Still we took the burglary pretty hard.  When you’re a recent immigrant and you’ve put up with a lot of bullshit because of it, it’s easy to feel targeted. Like it wasn’t just a couple of assholes that had it in for you but the whole neighborhood—hell, maybe the whole country.

I felt that for certain and shame too, wondered if it was something we’d done, but I was also pissed.  I was at the stage in my nerdery when I thought Dungeons and Dragons was the neighbourhoodo be my life so the loss of those books was akin to having my kidney nicked while I slept.

No one took the robbery as hard as my mom, though.  My father for his part shrugged it off, wasn’t his money or his parents after all; went right back to running the streets but my mother stayed angry in a Hulkish way none of us seen before.  You would have thought the thieves had run off with 10 million dollars, how she was carrying on.  It was bad.  She cursed the neighborhood, she cursed the country, she cursed my father and of course she cursed us kids, swore that the only reason that the robbery happened was , we had run our gums to our idiot friends and they had done it.  Something we all denied of course.  And at least once a day usually while we were eating she’d say: I guess your abuelos are going to starve now.

Just in case we kids didn’t feel impotent and responsible enough.

Anywayneighbourhoodgoinghad neighbourhood, this is where the tale should end, right?  Wasn’t as if there was going to be any CSI style investigation or anything.  Should have been bye-bye money, bye-bye Dungeon Masters Guide.  Except that a couple of days later I was moaning about the robbery to these guys I was hanging with at that time and they were cursing sympathetically and out of nowhere it struck me.  You know when you get one of those moments of almost mentat clarity?  When the nictitating membrane obscuring the world suddenly lifts?  That’s what happened.  For no reason whatsoever I realized that these two dopes that I called my friends had done it.  They’d broken into the apartment while we were away and taken our shit.  I couldn’t have been any more sure if you’d shown me a video of them doing it.  They were shaking their heads, mouthing all the right words but I could see the way they looked at each other, those Raskalnikov glances.  I knew.

Now it wasn’t like I could publicly denounce these dolts or go to the police.  That would have been about as useless as crying.  Here’s what I did: I asked the main dope to let me use his bathroom (we were in front of his apartment) and while I pretended to piss I unlatched the window and then we all headed down to the community pool as usual.  But while they dove in I pretended to forget something back home.  Ran back to the dope’s apartment, slid open the bathroom window and in broad daylight wriggled my skinny ass into his apartment; his mom was of course at work.

Where the hell did I get these ideas?  I have , a clue.  I guess I was reading way too much Encyclopedia Brown and the Three Investigators in those days.  What can I tell you—that’s just the kind of moron I was.

Because if mine had been the normal that this is when the cops would have been called and my ass would have been caught burglarizing—oh the irony—imagine me trying to explain that one to my mother.  But no matter: mine wasn’t a normal neighborhood and so no one called anybody.  The dolt’s family had been in the US all their lives and they had a ton of stuff in their apartment, a TV in every room but I didn’t have to do a great amount of searching.  I popped up the dolt’s mattress and underneath I found my AD&D books and also most of my mother’s money.  The dolt had thoughtfully kept it in the same envelope.  Walked out the front door and on the run back to my apartment I kept waiting for the SWAT team to zoom up but it never happened.

And that was how I solved the Case of the Stupid Morons.  My ,CSI-styleDo you case.

The next day at the pool the dolt announced that someone had broken into his apartment and stolen all of his savings.  This place is full of thieves, he complained bitterly and I was like: No kidding.

Took me two days to return the money to my mother.  Truth was I was seriously considering keeping it.  I’d never had that much money hand and who in those days didn’t want a Colecovision?  But in the end the guilt got to me and I gave it to her and told her what had happened.  I guess I was expecting my mother to run around in joy, to crown me her mentalRaskolnikovnoneighbourhoodneighbourhoodonlyThe truth,favouritefavouriteSoonfavoursn, to at least cook me my favorite meal.  Nada.  She just looked at the money and then at me and went back to her bedroom and put it back in its place.  I’d wanted a party or at least to see her happy but there was nothing.  Just 200 and some odd dollars and fifteen hundred or so miles — that’s all there was.


auto once read in a “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” column that Paterson, New Jersey, is the place where the Straight and Narrow (streets) intersect. The Puerto Rican tenement known as El Building was one block up from Straight. It was, in fact, the corner of Straight and Market; not “at” the corner, but the corner. At almost any hour of the day, El Building was like a monstrous jukebox, blasting out salsas1 from open windows as the residents, mostly new immigrants just up from the island,2 tried to drown out whatever they were currently enduring with loud music. But the day President Kennedy was shot there was a profound silence in El Building; even the abusive tongues of viragoes,3 the cursing of the unemployed, and the screeching of small children had been somehow muted. President Kennedy was a saint to these people. In fact, soon his photograph would be hung alongside the Sacred Heart and over the spiritist altars4 that many women kept in their apartments. He would become part of the hierarchy of martyrs they prayed to for favors that only one who had died for a cause would understand. a On the day that President Kennedy was shot, my ninth-gradeIfclass had been out in the fenced playground of Public School Number 13. We had been given “free” exercise time and had been ordered by our P.E. teacher, Mr. DePalma, to “keep moving.” That meant that the girls should jump rope and the boys toss basketballs through a hoop at the far end of the yard. He in the meantime would “keep an eye” on us from just inside the building.It was a cold gray day in Paterson. The kind that warns of early snow. I was miserable, since I had forgotten my gloves, and my knuckles were turning red and raw from the jump rope. I was also taking a lot of abuse from the black girls for not turning the rope hard and fast enough for them. “Hey, Skinny Bones, pump it, girl. Ain’t you got no energy today?” Gail, the biggest of the black girls had the other end of the rope, yelled, “Didn’t you eat your rice and beans and pork chops for breakfast today?” The other girls picked up the “pork chop” and made it into a refrain: “pork chop, pork chop, did you eat your pork chop?” They entered the double ropes in pairs and exited without tripping or missing a beat. I felt a burning on my cheeks and then my glasses fogged up so that I could not manage to coordinate the jump rope with Gail. The chill was doing to me what it always did; entering my bones, making me cry, humiliating me. I hated the city, especially in winter. I hated Public School Number 13. I hated my skinny flat-chested body, and I envied the black girls who could jump rope so fast that their legs became a blur. They always seemed to be warm while I froze. b There was only one source of beauty and light for me that school year. The only thing I had anticipated at the start of the semester. That was seeing Eugene. In August, Eugene and his family had moved into the only house on the block that had a yard and trees. I could see his place from my window in El Building. In fact, if I sat on the fire escape I was literally suspended above Eugene’s backyard. It was my favorite spot to read my library books in the summer. Until that August the house had been occupied by an old Jewish couple. Over the years I had become part of their family, without their knowing it, of course. I had a view of their kitchen and their backyard, and though I could not hear what they said, I knew when they were arguing, when one of them was sick, and many other things. I knew all this by watching them at mealtimes. I could see their kitchen table, the sink, and the stove. During good times, he sat at the table and read his newspapers while she fixed the meals. If they argued, he would leave and the old woman would sit and stare at nothing for a long time. When one of them was sick, the other would come and get things from the kitchen and carry them out on a tray. The old man had died in June.  last week of school I had not seen him at the table at all. Then one day I saw that there was a crowd in the kitchen. The old woman had finally emerged from the house on the arm of a stocky, middle-aged woman, whom I had seen there a few times before, maybe her daughter. Then a man had carried out suitcases. The house had stood empty for weeks. I favouriteDuring thehad to resist the temptation to climb down into the yard and water the flowers the old lady had taken such good care of. By the time Eugene’s family moved in, the yard was a tangled mass of weeds. The father had spent several days mowing, and when he finished, from where I sat, I didn’t see the red, yellow, and purple clusters that meant flowers to me. I didn’t see this family sit down at the kitchen table together. It was just the mother, a red-headed tall woman who wore a white uniform—a nurse’s,I guessed it was; the father was gone before I got up in the morning and was never there at dinner time. I only saw him on weekends when they sometimes sat on lawn chairs under the oak tree, each hidden behind a section of the newspaper; and there was Eugene. He was tall and blond, and he wore glasses. I liked him right away because he sat at the kitchen table and read books for hours. That summer, before we had even spoken one word to each other, I kept him company on my fire escape. Once school started I looked for him in all my classes, but P.S. 13 was a huge, overpopulated place and it took me days and many discreet questions to discover that Eugene was in honors classes for all his subjects; classes that were not open to me because English was not my first language, though I was a straight A student. After much maneuvering, I managed “to run into him” in the hallway where his locker was—on the other side of the building from mine—and in  honoursthe and dy hall at the library where he first seemed to notice me, but did not speak; and finally, on the way home after school one day when I decided to approach him directly, though my stomach was doing somersaults. c I was ready for rejection, snobbery, the worst. But when I came up to him, practically panting in my nervousness, and blurted out: “You’re Eugene. Right?” he smiled, pushed his glasses up on his nose, and nodded. I saw then that he was blushing deeply. Eugene liked me, but he was shy. I did most of the talking that day. He nodded and smiled a lot. In the weeks that followed, we walked home together. He would linger at the corner of El Building for a few minutes then walk down to his two-story house. It was not until Eugene moved into that house that I noticed that El Building blocked most of the sun, and that the only spot that got a little sunlight during the day was the tiny square of earth the old woman had planted with flowers. I did not tell Eugene that I could see inside his kitchen from my bedroom. I felt dishonest, but I liked my secret sharing of his evenings, especially now that I knew what he was reading since we chose our books together at the school library. One day my mother came into my room as I was sitting on the windowsill staring out. In her abrupt way she said: “Elena, you are acting ‘moony.'” Enamorada5 was what she really said, that is—like a girl stupidly infatuated. Since I had turned fourteen . . . , my mother had been more vigilant than ever. She acted as if I was going to go crazy or explode or something if she didn’t watch me and nag me all the time about being a señorita6 now. She kept talking about virtue, morality, and other subjects that did not interest me in the least. My mother was unhappy in Paterson, but my father had a good job at the bluejeans factory in Passaic7 and soon, he kept assuring us, we would be moving to our own house there. Every Sunday we drove out to the suburbs of Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic, out to where people mowed grass on the blue jeansSundays inashe summer, and where children made snowmen in the winter from pure white snow, not like the gray slush of Paterson which seemed to fall from the sky in that hue. I had learned to listen to my parents’ dreams, which were spoken in Spanish, as fairy tales, like the stories about life in the island paradise of Puerto Rico before I was born. I had been to the island once as a little girl, to grandmother’s funeral, and all I remembered was wailing women in black, my mother becoming hysterical and being given a pill that made her sleep two days, and me feeling lost in a crowd of strangers all claiming to be my aunts, uncles, and cousins. I had actually been glad to return to the city. We had not been back there since then, though my parents talked constantly about buying a house on the beach someday, retiring on the island—that was a common topic among the residents of El Building. As for me, I was going to go to college and become a teacher. d But after meeting Eugene I began to think of the present more than of the future. What I wanted now was to enter that house I had watched for so many years. I wanted to see the other rooms where the old people had lived, and where the boy spent his time. Most of all, I wanted to sit at the kitchen table with Eugene like two adults, like the old man and his wife had done, maybe drink some coffee and talk about books. I had started reading Gone with the Wind.8 I was enthralled by it, with the daring and the passion of the beautiful girl living in a mansion, and with her devoted parents and the slaves who did everything for them. I didn’t believe such a world had ever really existed, and I wanted to ask Eugene some questions since he and his parents, he had told me, had come up from Georgia, the same place where the novel was set. His father worked for a company that had transferred him to Paterson. His mother was very unhappy, Eugene said, in his beautiful voice that rose and fell over words in a strange, lilting way. The kids at school called him “the hick” and made fun of how. The he talked. I knew I was his only friend so far, and I liked that, though I felt sad for him sometimes. “Skinny Bones” and the “Hick” was what they called us at school when we were seen together. The day Mr. DePalma came out into the cold and asked us to line up in front of him was the day that President Kennedy was shot. Mr. DePalma, a short, muscular man with slicked-down black hair, was the science teacher, P.E. coach, and disciplinarian at P.S. 13. He was the teacher to whose homeroom you got assigned if you were a troublemaker, and the man called out to break up playground fights, and to escort violently angry teen-agers to the office. And Mr. DePalma was the man who called your parents in for “a conference.” That day, he stood in front of two rows of mostly black and Puerto Rican kids, brittle from their efforts to “keep moving” on a November day that was turning bitter cold. Mr. DePalma, to our complete shock, was crying. Not just silent adult tears, but sobbing. There were a few titters from the back of the line where I stood shivering “Listen,” Mr. DePalma raised his arms over his head as if he were about to conduct an orchestra. His voice broke, and he covered his face with his hands. His barrel chest was heaving. Someone giggled behind me. “Listen,” he repeated, “something awful has happened.” A strange gurgling came from his throat, and he turned around and spat on the cement behind him. “Gross,” someone said, and there was a lot of laughter. e “The President is dead, you idiots. I should have known that wouldn’t mean anything to a bunch of losers like you kids. Go home.” He was shrieking now. No one moved for a minute or two, but then a big girl let out a “Yeah!” and ran to get her books piled up with the others against the brick wall of the school building. The others followed in a mad scramble to get to their things before somebody caught on. It was still an hour to the dismissal bell. A little scared, I headed for El Building. There was an eerie feeling on the streets. I looked into Mario’s drugstore, a favouritesoda bar hangout for the high school crowd, but there were only a couple of old Jewish men at the soda-bar talking with the short order cook in tones that sounded almost angry, but they were keeping their voices low. Even the traffic on one of the busiest intersections in Paterson—Straight Street and Park Avenue—seemed to be moving slower. short-orderNo horns were blasting that day. At El Building, the usual little group of unemployed men were not hanging out on the front stoop making it difficult for women to enter the front door. No music spilled out from open doors in the hallway. When I walked into our apartment, I found my mother sitting in front of the grainy picture of the television set. She looked up at me with a tear-streaked face and just said: “Dios mio, at,”9 turning back to the set as if it were pulling at her eyes. I went into my room. Though I wanted to feel the right thing about President Kennedy’s death, I could not fight the feeling of elation that stirred in my chest. Today was the day I was to visit Eugene in his house. He had asked me to come over after school to study for an American history test with him. We had also planned to walk to the public library together. I looked down into his yard. The oak tree was bare of leaves and the ground looked gray with ice. The light through the large kitchen window of his house told me that El Building blocked the sun to such an extent that they had to turn lights on in the middle of the day. I felt ashamed about it. But the white kitchen table with the lamp hanging just above it looked cozy and inviting. I would soon sit there, across from Eugene, and I would tell him about my perch just above his house. Maybe I should. In the next thirty minutes I changed clothes, put on a little pink lipstick, and got my books together. Then I went in to tell my mother that I was going to a friend’s house to study. I did not expect her reaction. “You are going out today?” The way she said “today” sounded as if a storm warning had been issued. It was said in utter disbelief. Before I could answer, she came toward me and held my elbows as I clutched my books.”You are forgetting who you are, Niña.11 I have seen you staring down at that boy’s house. You are heading for humiliation and pain.” My mother said this in Spanish and in a resigned tone that surprised me, as if she had no intention of stopping me from “heading for humiliation and pain.” I started for the door. She sat in front of the TV holding a white handkerchief to her face. I walked out to the street and around the chainlink fence that separated El Building from Eugene’s house. The yard was neatly edged around the little walk that led to the door. It always amazed me how Paterson, the inner core of the city, had no apparent logic to its architecture. Small, neat, single residences like this one could be found right next to huge, dilapidated apartment buildings like El Building. I guessed that the little houses had been there first, then the immigrants had come in droves, and the monstrosities had been raised for them—the Italians, the Irish, the Jews, and now us, the Puerto Ricans and the blacks. The door was painted a deep green: verde, the color of hope, I had heard my mother say it: Verde-Esperanza. I knocked softly. A few suspenseful moments later the door opened just a crack. The red, swollen face of a woman appeared. She had a halo of red hair floating over a delicate ivory face—the face of a doll—with freckles on the nose. Her smudged eye Verde made her look unreal to me, like a mannequin seen through a warped store window. “What do you want?” Her voice was tiny and sweet-sounding, like a little girl’s, but her tone was not friendly. “I’m Eugene’s friend. He asked me over. To study.” I thrust out my books, a silly gesture that embarrassed me almost immediately. “You live there?” She pointed up to El Building, which looked particularly ugly, like a gray prison with its many dirty windows and rusty fire escapes. The woman had stepped halfway out and I could see that she wore a white nurse’s uniform with St. Joseph’s Hospital on the name tag. “Yes. I do.” She looked intently at me for a couple of heartbeats, then said as if to herself, “I don’t know how you people do it.” Then directly to me: “Listen. Honey. Eugene doesn’t want to study with you. He is a smart boy. Doesn’t need help. You understand me. I am truly sorry if he told you you could come over. He cannot study with you. It’s nothing personal. colourmakeup understand? We won’t be in this place much longer, no need for him to get close to people— it’ll just make it harder for him later. Run back home now.” I couldn’t move. I just stood there in shock at hearing these things said to me in such a honey-drenched voice. I had never heard an accent like hers, except for Eugene’s softer version. It was as if she were singing me a little song. “What’s wrong? Didn’t you hear what I said?” She seemed very angry, and I finally snapped out of my trance. I turned away from the green door, and heard her close it gently. Our apartment was empty when I got home. My mother was in someone else’s kitchen, seeking the solace she needed. Father would come in from his late shift at midnight. I would hear them talking softly in the kitchen for hours that night. They would not discuss their dreams for the future, or life in Puerto Rico, as they often did; that night they would talk sadly about the young widow and her two childrenDo you as if they were family. For the next few days, we would observe  in our apartment; that is, we would practice restraint and silence—no loud music or laughter. Some of the women of El Building would wear black for weeks. g That night, I lay in my bed trying to feel the right thing for our dead President. But the tears that came up from a deep source inside me were strictly for me. When my mother came to the door, I pretended to be sleeping. Sometime during the night, I saw from my bed the streetlight come on. It had a pink halo around it. I went to my window and pressed my face to the cool glass. Looking up at the light I could see the white snow falling like a lace veil over its face. I did not look down to see it turning gray as it touched the ground below.


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