The passage from page 128 to 130 relates the day when Grandmother Zumaya takes her granddaughter to enroll her in school. The primary impression that I took away from this passage was the way in which metaphor and personification serve to show the grandmother’s consternation and confusion at the school.
Quote #1: “Grandmother swatted away the child’s hands, irritated by the eyeballing clock and the child’s nervous pinches.”
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At this point on page 128, Grandmother is standing and waiting for someone at the school to help her. Because the child is nervous, she is pinching her grandmother, grabbing her where the apron strings are usually tied. Each touch adds to the grandmother’s nervousness, because the grandmother realizes that she is missing a button, which even the clock is “eyeballing,” or staring at closely. Her nervousness builds on itself the longer they stand there, to the point where even the blue paper clip on her granddaughter’s index card makes her anxious.
Quote #2: “Grandmother swabbed hot confusion off her forehead, the child a heel or two cautiously behind.” Yes, Grandmother is sweating on this humid morning, but the moisture is just a part of her overall confusion. Burdened by the walk to the bungalow, the smoggy haze, the heat “clamped” on everyone’s necks, Grandmother’s nervousness continues to build as she heads past the playground. She wipes the sweat away from her brow, but she is also trying to clear her head and prepare to meet her granddaughter’s teacher. Unfortunately, what is coming will not help, as a “chaotic classroom” that already has 31 children, to whom the teacher is feeding cold cereal instead of teaching, awaits Grandmother, only to infuriate her further, and to increase her sense of consternation.