"Abuelito Who" Analysis

><><by Milee Nelson


A New Perspective on “Simple”

“Abuelito Who” by poet and writer Sandra Cisneros, implies a connection between a sick grandfather and his grandchild. The use of abuelito, a term of endearment and grandfather in Spanish, and the tone suggests sadness toward the recent change in their grandfather’s personality. However, rather than tearful stories that stretch for hours or a speech giving all the major achievements and personality traits like at a funeral, the memories give a rather short and mundane view of the grandfather. The speaker, by describing her connection to her grandfather through simple habits and traits, tries to convey that in the end, it’s the simple things that matter.
The speaker’s first two lines convey the grandfather’s need to please the people around him with money in the lines, “Abuelito who throws coins like rain/ and asks who loves him.” This sets the tone of a grandfather that used to be active in his grandchild’s life, even if it was just through money or presents. Something as simple as a piece of candy or new stuffed animal was regarded as cool at the time, but now is only a constant reminder of the hole left by the grandfather’s absence.
The speaker describes simple items that now seem more memorable to the speaker such as, “who is dough and feathers/who is a watch and glass of water/whose hair is made of fur.” These lines show a gradual transition displayed in the detail at which the speaker describes the grandfather; minute details such as a watch or texture of his hair have just become apparent to the speaker and the meaning is much more significant. The amount of detail describing these simple items implies the poem’s deeper meaning and contributes to the underlying tone of the poem. The lines, “who tells me in Spanish you are my diamond/who tells me in English you are my sky,” conveys this transition to even greater detail as the lines are much more personal and pertain specifically to the speaker. The tone of the speaker continues to imply a simple but deep meaning to the words that would otherwise remain mundane.
The deteriorating condition of the grandfather as seen in the lines, “is too sad to come downstairs today/ cant com out to play/ is tired shut the door/ doesn’t live here anymore,” shifts the personal memories from the speaker to the grandfather and it changes from the past to the present. The grandfather is now the center of the memories and, in a way, it further demonstrates this more personal pattern shown throughout the poem. The memories such as, “who used to laugh like the letter k,” presents, once again, a simplistic but personal view of the grandfather through the speaker’s eyes.
“Abuelito Who” clearly demonstrates the connection between the speaker and grandfather through seemingly simplistic items such as, “is blankets and spoons and big brown shoes.” However, despite the simple look these items seem to give the poem, the meaning runs much deeper than a pair of shoes or blankets. The use of the items or traits clearly shows a simple but deep connection between the grandfather and grandchild. This connection is mimicked in the speaker’s connection to the items as the poem progresses. However, they both show that in the end, the simple things are what you remember and what matter.





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