"Abuelito Who"

><><by Sandra Cisneros



Abuelito who throws coins like rain
and asks who loves him

who is dough and feathers
who is a watch and a glass of water
whose hair is made of fur
is too sad to 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
can't come out to play
sleeps in his room all night and day
who used to laugh like the letter k
is sick
is a doorknob tied to a sour stick
is tired shut the door
doesn't live here anymore
is hiding underneath the bed
who talks to me inside my head
is blankets and spoons and big brown shoes
who snores up and down up and down up and down again
is the rain on the roof that falls like coins
asking who loves him
who loves him who?


Paraphrase:

  • My grandfather is always giving me things, spending money like it grows on tress, and then asks who loves him. He is like a grandpa in everyway, but he is too sick to come downstairs and be with me. He tells me I am valuable, that I encompass his whole world. But today, he's locked away in his room. He used to spend time with us, but now he's too tired, it's like he almost isn't here. It's as though he's hiding from us, and all we have are memories that talk to us inside our heads. I remember my favorite things about him, but the real thing has faded into the background now, like the rain on the roof.

Title:

  • In spanish, "Abuelito" is a term of endearment for a grandfather.

Sound Devices, Rhyme, and Patterns:

  • Rhyme scheme is abcdefghigggjjkkllmnopq. Rhyming starts at line 10 and ends at line 18.
  • The narrator repeats the word "who" almost every line.
  • The tone of the poem changes from reminiscent at the beginning, when the narrator is talking about the grandfather they used to know and what they used to do with them, and then it changes to sound sort of choppy and strangled, like the narrator is about to cry from the pain of losing their grandfather. This tone change compliments the surface level meaning of the poem.
  • The poem uses a lot of sensory images, such as "coins on rain," "hair made of fur," and "snores up and down up and down up and down again."
  • The poem is written to sound choppy and stumbling, like a child trying to talk while fighting the urge to cry. The poem is very informal and intimate, it is easy to tell the relationship the narrator has with their grandfather: they love him very much.

Biographical Information:

  • Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954 to a Mexican-American family of seven children. She received her B.A. in English at Layola University of Chicago in 1976, and has taught creative writing in almost every level of school. Being a Latina woman, Cisneros often found herself frustrated with how people of her ethnicity were treated when she was growing up. Thus, many of her literary works, including "Abuelito Who," deal with themes she was directly involved with, such as feelings of ailenation, conflicting cultrual identities, and/or family issues.Cisneros' other major works include: Bad Boys, My Wicked Wicked Ways, Loose Woman, Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Hairs/Pelitos, The House on Mango Street, and Caramelo.
  • Cisneros, Sandra. "About Sandra Cisneros." Sandra Cisneros. N.p., 8 Oct. 2009.
    Web. 1 Dec. 2009. <http://www.sandracisneros.com/bio.php>.


View Analysis by:

Elena Bauer - Juan Chapa - Christina Harden - Milee Nelson