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Literature 1 Page

Questions: Down These Mean Streets


Apartment, Piri says that they were going there “[c]ause we wanted to belong, and belonging meant doing whatever had to be done” (55). Afterwards he engages in an unwanted sex act with Concha, he thinks to himself,

I hadn’t liked the scene, but if a guy gotta live, he gotta do it from the bottom of his heart; he has to want it, to feel it. It’s no easy shake to hold off the pressure with one hand while you hold up your sagging pants with the other. But the game is made up as you go along, and you got to pick up what you have or dive out the top-floor window. (62)

This sex scene (actually, all of Piri’s sex scenes, including the subway train event and another that we will read next time, which helps to explain this diving out the window reference) is definitely one of the most memorable moments in American ethnic literature for me, and it is one of the reasons why I like to assign this book—to hear what other people think of it!

Piri calls La Vieja, Concha, and Antonia “faggots” and “maricones” (55), but we can call them gay men or, since they see themselves as women, we can call them transgender women. Piri applies the idea of having “heart” to a range of things—fighting, friendship, sex or romance, family relationships, earning money—but it all contributes to a consistent world view or personal ethic for him.

Question: Using the example in the transgender women’s apartment OR another moment in the text where Piri mentions having “heart,” describe in your own words what “heart” means to him. If you feel up to the challenge, also address these questions: Do you think having “heart” mean the same thing as being “hombre” in the text? We might have feelings about what Piri means by being hombre, given how he treats women (including transgender women), but would you describe his behavior and/or his thoughts as sexist, homophobic, or transphobic? Please note that you do not have to write about sexual activity in the novel if you choose not to--just pick another example of "heart" in that case. (100 words minimum)


Title: Questions: Down These Mean Streets
Length: 1 pages (275 Words)
Style: MLA


Questions: Down These Mean Streets

Question 1

The term policia as explained in the glossary means police. The definition of the term in the form of translation into the English language helps in understanding the term clearly. Amid doubts about what the term means, the explanation serves to shed light on the real meaning of the word. As such, there was no serious need to use the glossary in making the interpretations. Through the use of context clues, it was easy to have enough information alluding to the meaning of the word. The mention of the term “badge,” and based on the fact that the Narrator was running as if being pursued by somebody-“…and jumped into the nearest hallway and sat down in the darkness and watched the figure pass,”-brings the reader closer to the meaning of the term. The language that distracted me from realizing the author’s intended meaning is the use slang, seen in words such as “smack.”


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