Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Thought About Rio's Memoir

Recently, I have been taking a non-fiction writing course. In the class we have talked a great deal about memoirs. One of the major conclusions that one gets out of the class is that all memoir is fiction.

A person can’t remember every single detail of their life. In fact, they must fill in the blanks of their memory with imagination. Sometimes, authors screw around with the memory in order to appropriately convey what they were feeling at the time.

Now, I know that Dogeaters is fiction. Since it is fiction, I would have normally not had any reason to doubt Rio’s description of her life, even if it was written in memoir form. However, Pucha’s letter at the end, the one supposedly debunking most of what Rio said, got me wondering if Jessica Hagedorn wanted the reader to apply the same rules of real memoir to Rio’s account of events.

Pucha seemed unhappy about how she was portrayed. Because of this, I decided to look back at all the passages involving her. I wanted to see if there was room for misconception. After reviewing all the passages involving her, I started to think that Pucha’s letter probably has a great deal of truth to it, and that Rio changed her memories to reflect what she felt at the time.

Rio makes it clear that she is not happy with Pucha. I think she changed a lot her memories to reflect that.

Mistreatment of Pucha is first evident in the beginning, where Rio tells us that even though she is four years younger than Pucha, she feels older. The reader, having no one else’s words to go on, immediately comes to the understanding that Pucha isn’t very mature.

Rio continues to tell us how Pucha isn’t very bright through out the book. For instance, on page 60, when Pucha is flirting with Severo Alcaran, Rio states ““I can tell he finds my silly cousin desirable, her eagerness amuses him. I’ve told her it’s disgusting, she should lie down on a bed of money and die, the way she acts these days. She pisses me off so much, sometimes I am embarrassed to be seen with her-wiggling and strutting all over the place.” Notice how she calls Pucha silly, tells the reader how she finds what Pucha does is disgusting, and how she pisses her off.

Later, on page 93, Rio talks about going shopping with her grandmother and Pucha. She is quick to state what her grandmother thinks of Pucha. “ I don’t think abuelita is too fond of her, but she pretends to be, for Uncle Agustin’s sake.”

There are numerous accounts just like this through out the book. Pucha is whining about something, being sexually suggestive in another part, or just being cruel. All of these accounts reinforce the fact that Rio wasn’t happy with Pucha. Since there are so many accounts of Pucha being immature, I truly believe that Rio changed her memories.

To me, it is practically impossible that someone could be so devilish. However, if someone harbors a great deal of hostility towards another, they tend to change their memories of that person to reflect that. Since Rio wasn’t very fond of Pucha, perhaps this is what she did. It would certainly explain why Pucha always appears to be immature.

However, one final thought. Maybe Rio wasn’t disgusted with her cousin. Maybe she was jealous? It seems to me that Rio always puts Pucha in a scene where her sexuality comes out. Rio seems to be disgusted by Pucha’s suggestiveness, but if that is the case, why would she consistently bring it up? Sure, it could be just because it is apart of her Pucha’s character, or it could be that Rio is jealous. Jealous people often find ways of hiding that jealousy in hatred.

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