"Abuelito Who" Analysis

><><by Elena Bauer



The poem Abuelito Who, by Sandra Cisneros, literally means Grandpa who? Through out this poem Cisneros describes an aging grandfather, and the effects it has on the writer. All in all I consider this poem as a message to the reader saying: Nothing lasts forever, and in the end you have to decide what you are going to remember.

The first line of the poem, “Abuelito who throw s coins like rain” is an expression that is often times used by my grandmother. She uses it to imply that money doesn’t come raining from the sky; it has to be worked for. In this line, Abuelito is described spending money as if it did coming raining from the sky. The following line, “and asks who loves him” suggests that Abuelito assumes that through pleasing the person with money or material that they will love him more, and love is important to Abuelito.

The next three lines (lines 3-5) are analogies describing Abuelito who. “Who is dough and feathers/ who is a watch and glass of water/ whose hair is made of fur”. Describing Abuelito as dough and feathers conveys how he can be tough and unwilling to change his mind or his ways, the dough, but at the same time he can be light, and “fly away in a different direction” changing his opinion and ways of doing things. The analogy that who is a watch and glass of water conveys that a watch is telling time and always ticking, always moving, but when submerged in water, stops ticking and stops working. A person is like a ticking clock getting older and older, but grandparents seem suspended over the water, where the end of their “ticking” could happen any time, as soon as the watch falls. “Whose hair is made of fur” portrays Abuelito’s hair as short and dense just like fur, in contrast to long individual strains of hair. The older a grandpa gets the shorter and stubbier the hair on the head becomes. These three lines are followed by the line, “is too sad to come downstairs today” which literally means Abuelito can’t come downstairs today.

“Who tells me in Spanish you are my diamond/ who tells me in English you are my sky/ whose little eyes are string”(lines 7-9). “Who tells me in Spanish you are my diamond” implies that Abuelito tells the writer that he/she is a hard, brilliant, clear and beautiful being. Saying it in Spanish may be of significance because Spanish is his probably Abuelito’s native language, his origin, something he will hold on to, and can never leave him. Telling the writer that they are his diamond in Spanish can imply that not only is the writer beautiful, brilliant and clear, they are something Abuelito will hold onto forever, that could never disappear. Often times people from Mexico come to the U.S with the hope that they will have a great life that encompasses everything they ever wanted for their family. This could be the reason why Abuelito calls the writer my sky in English. The sky is unending, vast, and encompasses the whole world. “Whose little eyes are strings” describes Abuelito’s mysterious eyes. Strings were used to convey messages before there was a writing system. Abuelito’s eyes must convey whatever message he tries to convey. String is also made up of many strands twisted and intertwined. Abuelito’s eyes must convey a message, but also show all the different aspects of his life and who he is intertwined in his eyes.

Abuelito is getting older and becoming more and more ill. This is conveyed in the next 4 lines (lines 10-13). “Can’t come out to play/ sleeps in his little room all night and day/ who used to laugh like the letter k/ is sick.” Abuelito can’t play, can’t entertain and be that person he was for the writer anymore, because he is always sleeping in his room. Abuelito used to laugh, and he laughed so much, that each laugh had a characteristic of his own. This is like the letter k, where each line of the k is a different length. The letter K also cannot be written in one fluid movement. The pencil must be lifted after every line. But Abuelito can’t laugh in his different ways or play because he is sick.

The following eight lines (lines 14-21) bring this poem to its conclusion, describing the ever aging and sickening Abuelito. “Is a doorknob tied to a sour stick” describes the door to Abuelito’s room. It is always closed, because the weight of a sour stick is far to little to ever make the doorknob turn. “Is tired shut the door” emphasizes all the more, that Abuelito’s door never opens. “Doesn’t live here anymore”. This line claims that Abuelito’s door is closed so often and he is never around, that it is as though he doesn’t live here anymore. “Is hiding underneath the blankets”. When someone is sick in bed most often they are covered in blankets and asleep. The stereotypical image of a sick person is that person in a bed with the bed sheets pulled up to their chin. This is probably what Abuelito looks like, or what the writer is imagining her Abuelito looks like: as if he is hiding underneath the blankets of the bed. Through the writer’s description of Abuelito, the reader can tell how much Abuelito means to the writer. The line, “Who talks to me in my head”, highlights the feelings that the writer has. Missing Abuelito all the time has resulted in her having to hear him in her mind, from memories of him.

Another stereotypical image of being sick is spoons to take the medicine, blankets for the sick person in bed, and the big brown shoes that the doctor wears when he comes to check on his patient. The line describing Abuelito, “is blankets and spoons and big brown shoes”, illustrates how sick Abuelito is. When someone is sick, the best remedy is sleep. Abuelito “snores up and down up and down up and down again”. It seems to the reader like Abuelito is taking long winter’s nap. Abuelito’s sickness, and constant need to rest, does not go unnoticed at any time. It is like the tapping of rain during a rainstorm: constant and seeming to be never ending. “Is the rain on the roof that falls like coins”. Abuelito’s sickness is like the tapping of rain during a rainstorm, but it’s even louder than the tapping of rain. It is as though coins are falling and tapping on the roof, serving as a constant reminder, that Abuelito is really sick.

“Asking who loves him/ who loves him who?” The final lines of the poem restate what seems to be so important to Abuelito, but also to the writer: love. Abuelito would do things in hopes that when he asked who loved him, he would always get a loving response. Now, though he can’t get anything, or do anything special, he asks again who loves him, and the writer has to question love and ask herself who loves him who?

In the final lines of this poem the writer has to question herself who loves him who? She is not questioning if she really loves him, but what she loves about him and what she remembers. She hears him speaking in her head, she remembers and tells the reader about the different beautiful things in nature the writer reminds Abuelito about, and speaks about how daunting it is to have Abuelito sick and pounding on her like pouring rain. These concerns support my thesis, that nothing will last forever, and in the end you have to decide what you are going to remember. This will happen to everyone in a subtle or obvious way, because there is always something that someone cares about, and that something will become old, or die, or disappear, or get lost, and that person will face the question, what do I remember.


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