The Soviet leaders boasted of Svetlana’s return, but she was miserable there. When approached by reporters on the street, she swore at them in frustration. At a formal press conference, she seemed ill-tempered and ill-mannered. “In those cold autumn days of 1984 in Moscow, I felt as if I was sinking into dark waters—as it is sometimes in a nightmare,” she wrote. Even the architecture seemed grimly oppressive. Olga remembers that her relatives were disappointed that she and her mother hadn’t returned with suitcases full of VCRs and international perfume. A month after her arrival, during a sleepless night, Svetlana had a vision of Georgia, her parents’ birthplace. Soon afterward, she and Olga flew to Tbilisi.
In March, 1970, Svetlana arrived in Scottsdale, a warm city that smelled of orange blossom. On her first day at Taliesin West, the Wright compound, she was summoned to a formal dinner, where she found herself at a long, polished bright-red table. Olgivanna, it turned out, believed that Svetlana was a reincarnation of her daughter. Her hope was that this new Svetlana would marry the previous one’s widower—Wesley Peters, a tall man in a sand-colored tuxedo and a ruffled lavender shirt, who was seated beside her.
When Olga realized that Svetlana was close to death, she wanted to visit, but Svetlana had requested that her daughter not see her die, and that she not be allowed to view the body. Svetlana, Olga told me, had been haunted her entire life by the sight of her mother lying in an open coffin.
With that, her letters became warm again. I wrote less frequently, though. My book was done, and I had fewer questions. In June, 2011, she began to write about death:
After Svetlana settled in Princeton, she began hearing from Olgivanna Lloyd Wright, the widow of Frank Lloyd Wright. She urged Svetlana to visit the Taliesin Fellowship, the community dedicated to his memory, which had outposts in Wisconsin and Arizona. Olgivanna told her that she had a daughter, also named Svetlana, who had died in a car crash twenty-three years earlier. Svetlana Alliluyeva thought that perhaps Olgivanna would remind her of her own mother.
In the early eighteen-nineties, when Svetlana’s German grandmother, Olga, was a teen-ager, she climbed out of a window in her home in Georgia to elope. Olga’s daughter, Nadya Alliluyeva, when she was sixteen, ran off with Joseph Stalin, a thirty-eight-year-old seminarian, poet, and family friend who had become a revolutionary leader.
They are the things that give
it sabor (flavor), that give it picante
Cisneros is the only daughter of a hard-working,
Mexican-American family of six sons, forcing her to spend a lot of time by herself.
Cisneros tells the story in a first person point of view.
However much has been told—and written—about me—all lies and libels! . . . Next April (22nd) will be my 40 years in USA which started with 2 best-sellers, and now came to the quiet life on a monthly check from SSI—thanks be to FDR for the Wellfare! . . . I am still here in USA—as a guest after all 40 years—never quite “at home” here.
But somehow I could feel myself being erased."
-she explains how the mistranslation made her feel.
Methods of Organization
The only daughter is writen in a non-chronological events.
My husband and mother nodded and turned the pages of their own books. Beatrice listened placidly, teething alternately on her fist, her foot. I have read the essays in the collection many times since, and I often teach them or recommend them to my students. In a graduate class that I taught at North Carolina State University, a woman with a wry sense of humor who wrote speculative short fiction gave a presentation on “The Little Virtues.” Near the end of her talk she tried to read the final passage from a tender and heartbreaking essay called “Winter in the Abruzzi,” about Ginzburg’s last winter with her first husband. My student had to stop herself because she was so overcome with emotion.
I find her inspiring. I find my daughter inspiring, too—this tiny but fearless being who leaps so confidently from those stacks of giant quarters, sure that however she lands, it will be O.K. It’s my job to keep her feet dry, Ginzburg reminds me, because “perhaps even for learning to walk in worn-out shoes, it is as well to have dry, warm feet when we are children.” What road will she walk down? I can’t know, not yet.
I first read “The Little Virtues” on a family beach trip when Beatrice was eight months old, and my attention was divided between vacationing, caring for her, and writing syllabi for the fall semester. I thought I could use some of the book in a class I was planning on the personal essay, but I also began to see the book as piercingly relevant to my own life, to my hopes and uncertainties. I read lines out loud to my husband, my mother, and to Beatrice—lines like this one: “What we must remember above all in the education of our children is that their love of life should never weaken.”
Cisnero's uses this to present privious happenings to reach her purpose.
Understanding Diction And Detail
The Only Daughter
By: Sandra Cisneros
because her brothers felt it was beneath them to play with a girl.
Her father believes that she is destined to be a good housewife, and college is good because it will help her find a goodhusband, but what Cisneros really wants is to become a writer.
Ten years after writing professionally, the reward finally paid off, not only money wise but with her father.