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Green Chiles Analysis

Essay by   •  January 2, 2011  •  812 Words (4 Pages)  •  4,798 Views

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There is a mysterious connection between grandparent and grandchild, one that transcends all ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic groups. In Jimmy Santiago Baca's poem "Green Chile", he explores this connection via the use of chile peppers as a medium. Baca personifies both green and red peppers to illustrate not only that special bond, but also the historical significance of said vegetable amongst the Mexican-American community.

The speaker in "Green Chile" begins the poem by stating his fondness for red chiles. As an accompaniment to his morning feast, and as decorative items embellishing the exterior of his home. It is somewhat implied that the speaker is almost obsessed with red chiles and all that they stand for. "I can hear them talking in the wind,/haggard, yellowing, crisp, rasping/tongues of old men, locking the breeze", (II 8-11) suggests that the speakers likens the chile's to old wise men, shooting the breeze and telling exciting stories of yesteryear. The red chiles have earned this respite period. A time to "gently swing" in their proverbial easy chairs and wind down. The speaker is proud to offer his home as a resting place for such noble Gents, out of respect for history and tradition, and all the "historical grandeur" the chiles represent.

Conversely, his Grandmother prefers the much younger green chiles. The setting of the second stanza shifts to the speaker's grandmother's house. In her kitchen, she is in the midst of conjuring up various traditional Mexican dishes for her grandson, "sacrificing" her lover (the green chili) to her "little prince". The green chile, in this case, takes on the personification of "A well-dressed gentleman at the door" (1. 19). The preparation of the green chiles is a way for the grandmother to re-live her youth through the art of cooking, daydreaming a bit, in order to spice up this daily ritual. The speaker describes, very vividly, how grandmother begins the almost sexual task of prepping the chiles:

My grandmother takes sensuously in her hand

Rubbing its firm glossed sides,

Caressing the oily rubbery serpent

With mouth-watering-watering fulfillment

Fondling its curves with gentle fingers. (II. 20-24)

The speaker watches his grandmother prepare the green chili con carne in awe, knowing all along that she wants to please him, even if it means sacrificing her true love in order to take care of her family. Sexual metaphors aside, it is clear that the speaker loves his grandmother immensely and offers a sacrifice of his own. Even though red chiles are clearly his favorite, he is willing to clean his plate



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