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Just as the cultural myth of gender roles is describe in the article “True Women and Real Men” in the book Rereading America, Alvarez explores the categories of gender as they are constructed by the society. She uses social research, the quinceanera story of a girl named Monica, her personal experience and history to explore the cultural myth of gender roles. This paper will describe how the cultural myth of gender roles is presented as one that enforces the differences between women and men in Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA.
Ideally, Once Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA pushes readers to question the cultural perceptions of gender as embedded in rites of passage rituals. Having left the Dominican Republic at the time she would have had her own quinceanera, Alvarez examines how gender is perceived among girls who are not sure themselves of the significance of the ritual. The cultural myth of gender roles is deeply entangled with the identities of individuals as determined by the cultural values they have internalized from infancy. In her book, Alvarez neither presents arguments for gender superiority nor inferiority but, rather, presents the case as typically perceived by the Latina community. The clear message embodied in the quinceanera concept as opined in Alvarez’s book is that the Latina girl is expected to get married, devote herself to her husband and have children. In the US, as Alvarez implies, a quince (or Latina girl coming of age) is exceedingly dramatized and the scenario often entails the parents overspending in what seems to be advertising their daughter for marriage. Symbolically, during the ceremony, the young girl is dressed much like a bride. Then her father changes her flat shoes with high heels, claims the first waltz and passes her on to an uncle, brother or grandfather and finally an escort. Ideally, it is a wedding rehearsal just short of a
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