“Maribel [had] dropped two stories to the ground below” (Henriquez 101). After the accident, Maribel had, “Her neck snapped back” which caused, “Her brain [to] swell” making her change as a whole (Henriquez 103). Maribel was a fifteen-year-old girl who had fallen from a ladder while helping her father outside. When Maribel fell her mother had been holding the ladder but before she knew it, she saw her daughter loosing grip of the ladder. As Maribel lost grip she fell to the ground Maribel’s fall was significant which cause her to change. She had lost her true self because she now behaved differently. Alma stated, “… because I wanted more then anything for her to be fine … for her to transform again into the girl she used to be” (Henriquez 32). Alma (Maribel’s mother) cares for her daughter and wants her daughter to be normal again. Though she feels guilty about the accident, “that day I was the one who let her go up there” (Henriquez 245). As a mother she understood that having her daughter go up the ladder it was her responsibility to make sure Maribel was okay. When the accident happened she felt accountable for hurting Maribel and letting her fall. The novel, “The book of Unknown Americans” by Cristina Henriquez a story about how a family of three (the Rivera’s) who move from Patzcuaro to Delaware to provide a better life for their daughter. In order to help her the Rivera’s moved to provide her with better schooling and help overall. As I read the novel I noticed that Alma was a typical mother who cared for her daughter though the guilt from the accident caused Alma to make poor decisions. Alma may be seen as selfish in many ways because she doesn’t find telling the whole truth towards situations as a go to. Although Alma is a good and caring mother she needs to take responsibility towards her mistakes and improve as a whole.
Alma shows many aspects of her being a loving mother and wanting to see her daughter succeed. An example of how she’s a caring mother is when she decided to attend school, “Maybe I would even learn enough to be able to help Maribel with her homework” (Henriquez 58). This shows that alma didn’t mind being older and going back to school because she knew that she could help her daughter succeed in school. Though things change when she is late from picking up Maribel from school, “I didn’t even have the heart to ask whether she was sure because I didn’t want to give her the chance to take it back” (Henriquez 66). One can tell that Alma did feel bad about leaving her daughter and forgetting about her but she was glad that her daughter was safe. This is when you can see that Alma may be putting to much to the side rather then taking care of her daughter considering the state of mind she is in. Not only does she forget her daughter once but she forgets her again, though this time there was more consequences. As Alma realizes she forgot to pick up Maribel she finds her way to where she sees,
“As I turned the corner, I saw her. Her back was against the cider-block wall, and her hands were up over her head… the boy from the gas station… was holding her wrists in place… her shirt was bunched under her armpits, exposing her white cotton bra… her eyes squeezed shut” (Henriquez 121).
This quote shows that Maribel was just assaulted by a boy names garret and Alma had come just in time. Maribel having a brain injury causes her to be helpless. Not only was she helpless, Alma knew of her condition and she should have been there on time to pick her her daughter.
At this point Alma has seen her daughter get assaulted and she breaks them apart. She then takes Maribel away. After the incident one would expect Alma to tell Arturo her husband about what had happened and maybe find a solution to the problem, but in her perspective she thinks otherwise, “I hadn’t told him what happened. I wasn’t going to tell him. I didn’t want him to know that I had failed Maribel Again” (Henriquez 122). She is so concerned about her looking bad in front of her husband that she thinks its not important to tell Arturo about how their daughter got assaulted. Alma feels that the accident was her fault but she needs to realize that she may have to stop living in the guilt because she is only hurting her daughter more by not taking any action towards what had happened.
Alma shows that she’s a caring mother when she later takes her daughter to the police station to report the incident. For example, “I hadn’t uttered a word to anyone about finding the boy with Maribel … I [wasn’t] able to stop thinking about it … I was suffocating” (Henriquez 147). Alma wants to say something about the situation and do something for her daughter because she knows it was wrong for the boy to assault her daughter. Alma states, “I was furious at my self for letting him get to her for creating an opening just big enough for him to slip through” (Henriquez 147). She shows that she cares for her daughter’s safety and she didn’t want this situation to go as unseen. Alma decided to go report the situation and as she talked to the officer, “I had the urge to tell him about her brain injury, but I didn’t want his pity” (Henriquez 148). She does not want to admit that she was late to pick up her daughter nor does she want to admit that her daughter is mentally not all there. So when reporting the incident she made it sound as if there was not much that happened. Alma shows that she is caring but she had her guilt and self-esteem come between her parenting styles.
Within parenting styles, parents are always learning and they may face issues. In Almas case her reputation would be; the perfect wife and mother and she lies because she feels guilty that she may loose her title as a great mother. For example, “Some people lie for reputation purposes” (Basu 1). According to this Alma viewed herself as a good mother who took care of her daughter and wanted what was best for her. When Maribel had the accidents she started to have self doubts about her as a mother and her guilt led her to doubt her reputation. One must look at her parenting styles and why she lets her guilt overrule the decisions she makes and why she keeps secrets. Her viewpoint of being responsible for Maribel’s accident may have hurt her self esteem as well. For example, “when unstable high self-esteem people experience failure, their underlying self-doubt is reflected in physiological responses” (Moudgil 169). This was shown in the novel when Alma decided not to share things to Arturo because she felt as if she had done the wrong thing by showing up late to picking up her daughter. But she didn’t realize that it wasn’t about her reputation but about the safety of her daughter.
All in all, Alma may face many self-esteem issues and might show that she makes decisions so she doesn’t look like a bad mother she actually cares for her daughter. She has shown that she’s a good mother because she wanted what’s best for her daughter. The fact that she moved to the United States to get her daughter educated and help her is a great way to show she truly cares. Maribel towards the end of the novel had even improved as a whole and she had never blamed alma for her situation. Alma make mistakes but overall she’s a good mother who cares for her daughter and her future.
Basu, Tanya. “Why Do People Lie When They Can Easily Get Caught?” Time.Com, 18 Sept. 2015. EBSCOhost
Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans: A Novel. Unabridged. Books on Tape; [New York], 2014.
Moudgil, Ranjana and Nandini Moudgil. “Parenting Styles and Self-Esteem as Predictors of Aggression.” Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing, vol. 8, no. 2, Feb. 2017, pp. 168-172. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=122565565&site=ehost-live.