English 254                   Class #19         Mon, June 2nd

Chavez, "The Last of the Menu Girls"


1. How would you describe the structure of this story?



2. Is the plot traditional: conflict, rising tension, climax, resolution? Who might be the protagonist, who the antagonist?



3. What is Rocio's experience caring for Great Aunt Eutilia, and how does she respond to it?



4. "I danced around her bed in my dreams," Rocio says, "naked, smiling, jubilant" (2551). Why naked? Why jubilant? Why dancing?



5. Why does Chavez/Rocio tell us about Doña Mercedes (2552-53)?



6. What's the effect of juxtaposing Eutilia's pain with Mr. Smith reflecting on the positive aspects of his job (2554-55)?



7. What's the significance of Rocio's dream about her boyfriend?



8. Does the idea of a menu work as a metaphor? What does the title mean?



9. "That week I fell in love," Rocio says (2559). With whom? And in what sense?



10. "I had made that awesome leap into myself that steamy summer of illness and dread..." (2565). What does she mean, and when did this happen?



11. Analyze the juxtaposition of these two sentences: "Her [Nightingale's] look encompassed all the great unspeakable sufferings of every war. I thought of Arlene typing insurance premiums" (2566)?



12. How do Rocio's colleagues respond to Juan Maria/the Nose? Why? Do "wetbacks and healthy college students" (2565) represent the two primary choices of identity for young Mexican Americans, or only two extremes? Are there other models?


13. What's this story about, and what’s Chavez’ point?