Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Contradictions in Sense of Place in !Caramba!

Place is the setting in which the events of a story and the actions of its characters take place. In the final scene of !Caramba!, the songs “Red Hot” and “La Cigarra” exhibit the contradictions at work in the sense of place manifested in Lava Landing, represented in the Annual Lava County Labor Day Parade.
In the final scene, the sense of place is defined by those characters and events that inhabit the setting as well as by the things that are absent from it. The most conspicuous characters at the site of the Annual Lava County Labor Day Parade are Lucha and Fabiola (along with their kilo of heroine), April May, and the Volcano, whose lingering threat has lurked through much of the novel. Conspicuously absent are the majority of our other main characters: Consuelo, Natalie, Lulabelle, and Javier, who have all embarked on a journey outside of Lava Landing for the first time in the novel. These are the defining elements of the final scene; each of them, in their own way, interacts with the aural elements of the scene, or what may be called the soundtrack to the events in these characters’ lives. The playlist on this soundtrack consists of “Red Hot”, “La Cigarra”, and also, arguably, April May’s scream and the rumble of the earth’s quaking, as described in the final paragraph of the novel: “April May fills her large lungs with air. She screams…and the Earth responds in kind.”
“Red Hot” and “La Cigarra” inform the sense of place by working in opposition to each other, thus revealing some of the paradoxes in Lava Landing. In so far as it is a mass public gathering that celebrates the town, the Labor Day Parade may be said to represent Lava Landing. Therefore, exploring the contradictions at work in the parade’s “soundtrack” may provide important insights into the sense of place evoked by Lava Landing at large. The Labor Day Parade also happens to be the climax of the novel. Therefore, we expect these contradictions to resolve themselves, or, on the other hand, to explode from the pressure created by their opposition. Of course, we find the latter to be the case, as the final page explains: “Area rocked by 5.9 Quake; County wakes up without queen.”
The opposition between “Red Hot” and “La Cigarra” is most prevalent in their shared subject, which is, very generally speaking, love and/or romantic relationships. While this is readily apparent from “Red Hot’s” chorus, which features the narrator boasting about the superiority of his “gal” over any other, (“My gal is red hot – Your gal ain’t doodley squat”) “La Cigarra” requires some closer reading to identify its subject. The greater part of the song is devoted to a description of the narrator’s great sorrow. It is not until the third stanza that the source of this despair is revealed, which is none other than unrequited or painful love.

Un palomito al volar
Que llevaba el pecho herido
Ya casi para llorar
Me digo muy afligido
Ya me canso a buscar
Un amor correspondido

A little dove upon flying
Bearing a wounded breast
Was about to cry
And told me very afflicted
I’m tired of searching for
A mutual love


The paradox between the two songs revolves around the fact that while they share a general subject, their attitudes are in complete discord with each other. “Red Hot” is fun-loving, self-assured, even flippant. The narrator’s descriptions of the “gal” in question are limited to shallow expressions of her physical characteristics (“six feet four”), behavior, (“Well she walks all night, talks all day”) and the like. Meanwhile, “La Cigarra” is mournful, tragic, and deadly serious. Although the object of affection is not described, his/her impact is very tangible in the life of the narrator:

Y quiero morir cantando
Como muere la cigarra

And I want to die singing
Like the cicada dies

Likewise, the sound of “Red Hot” and “La Cigarra” are at odds. “Red Hot” is an upbeat rockabilly tune; “La Cigarra” is a sorrowful ranchera song. As suggested by their association with each of the characters, “Red Hot” and “La Cigarra” may be said to be the theme songs of April May and Fabiola, respectively.
In the final scene, the sense of place derives from the tension in identity between these two characters. April May goes to great efforts to win over the judges on the Miss Magma panel, and for nine years her efforts have proved fruitful. However, some discontent is growing in the ranks of the judges, a sentiment expressed in the observation, “APRIL MAY MIGHT REPRESENT OUR VOLCANO, BUT SHE DOES NOT REPRESENT US.” April May also happens to be ugly, Anglo (if we can judge by the description that she was “so pale her veins showed through her skin”), and apparently biologically male. Fabiola is beautiful, Mexican-American, and, of course, female. She isn’t interested in the prestige of Miss Magma—in fact, she’s not even registered as a contestant, and casts off the Miss Magma crown after it is placed on her head.
April May and Fabiola reflect on the oppositions at play in Lava Landing. Although located in California, the city—or at least the part of it the reader sees—is thoroughly Mexican-American, and Mexican culture permeates the pages of the novel. Earlier in its history it was devastated by a volcano eruption, and yet the lava flow ultimately became a boon for the city’s inhabitants: it made the soil especially fertile, resulting in a mass migration of Mexican laborers every harvest season. Brujeria, loosely translated as witchcraft, plays a major role in the story, and yet the same characters who ply its trade exhibit religious devotion, or exhibited it at one time (Lullabelle and the brujo that Fabiola and Lucha visit). Thus, the sense of place is ultimately one made deeply familiar through the characters we are introduced to, yet rife with contradictions that complicate the sense of place and push the community to the point of explosion, in the form of the earthquake. When the earthquake does occur, it signals the climax of some of the characters’ narratives, namely, the characters present in Lava Landing when the earthquake strikes. Fabiola and Lucha are arrested; jail will likely prevent them from enjoying their newfound riches or avenging Fabiola any time in the foreseeable future. And April May is deprived of a tenth consecutive Miss Magma title. However, Natalie, Consuelo, Lullabelle, and Javier are not present during the climactic earthquake. Will Javier learn to balance the demands of mariachi masculinity with his devotion to missionary religiousness? Will Lullabelle finally decide who is the real keeper of her soul: God or the Devil? Will Natalie and Consuelo come to terms with the tension between their regular dancing and flirting with boys on the one hand, and their deep commitment to one another on the other hand? These contradictions are not resolved.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Memory and Place

Music is very powerful in that it can trigger and influence our emotions. A simple tune or melody can send someone back to the past of a happy memory or a sad time in their life. This either happens because they can relate to song, perhaps due to the lyrics, or because music was playing during that memory they created. When the elements of tone, tempo and rhythm come together, they perform a powerful spell that can induce deep feelings and a whole range of emotions.
In analyzing one of the final scenes in Caramba, we can denote how music has a powerful effect on the characters participating at the Lava County Labor Day Parade. April-May was the same-old same-old. After winning for nine years in a row and skating to the same song every year, I bet the public was tired and bored of the performance which they observed many times. Also, I feel like the brief moment where we get to see her character, she is portrayed as someone who is a bit of a crab. Now on the other hand we have sweet little Favy. She starts out timid but in the end she has drawn all eyes on the parade on her and is stealing the show.
I think that April-May's performance had become associated with a bad feeling in the eyes and ears of her public. Billy Lee Riley's "Red Hot" was the same piece she performed to every year and I bet when the song started playing, everyone was taken back to the same performance which they new all to well. Favy offered something new, and the way in which she started off slow and gradually increased her momentum drew the attention of the crowd. They were able to create a new happy memory which trumps April-May's same-old same-old.

Songs Setting the Mood

In my opinion, music is a very good tool for setting moods. I also believe that "sense of place" goes a bit further than just a geographical location in this book. The songs “Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?", and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" not only give us an idea of what kind of physical place the story is taking place in, but also dictate in a way how the characters interact with each other.

"Hey Baby,
¿Qué Pasó?" is the first song that is brought to our attention in the chapter, The Big Five-Four. Just the title of this song does a good job at setting up the mood and what is happening. With Nat just leaving the bathroom, she finds that Consuelo is dancing with sid in a very fun a lighthearted way. Listening to "Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?" makes it very clear that fun and lighthearted is exactly what the author is trying to convey here. As we know, Cid has been interested in Consuelo for almost 10 years but Consuelo has no interest in him. For Consuelo, this is just a fun lighthearted dance with a friend.

The song "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," is the second song that is brought to our attention and i believe this song, in a way, sums up Consuelo's and Nat's fun nights out. I believe this song is important because it makes the reader realize that what Consuelo and Nat are doing is really just wasting their days and nights. We get a sense that they have been coming to this place for a long time and every night they come, they have drinks, dance with guys then go home. They never really meet anyone new and often end up dancing with the same people that they have no interest in. A good example of this is when Consuelo dances again with Cid, instead of find a new dance partner and meeting a new person. Conseulo and Nat are just wasting their days and nights.

As we have seen, these songs do more than just gives a visual on where the story is taking place. The songs actually set the mood and tone of how things are happening in the story and even sum up what is actually taking place at the time.

Cancion del caballo Blanco

The term sense of place has been defined and utilized in different ways by different people. To some, it is a characteristic that some geographic places have and some do not, while to others it is a feeling or perception held by people (not by the place itself). It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging. Sense of place gives a reader a sense of nostalgia when he/she stumbles upon something they can relate with, such as a song.
In Caramaba, Don Pancho is singing La Cancion del caballo Blanco while intoxicated and on the railroad tracks. The lyrics in the corrido give you an idea of what's going to happen to Don Pancho and the journey he is about to be in.

Cancion del Caballo Blanco
Este es el corrido del caballo blanco
que en un dia Domingo feliz arrancara,
iba con la mira de llegar al Norte,
habiendo salido de Guadalajara.

Su noble jinete le quito las riendas
le quito la silla y se fue 'a puro pelo'
cruzo como rayo tierras Nayaritas
entre cerros verdes y el azul del cielo.

A paso mas lento llego hasta Escuinapa
y por Culiacan ya se andaba quedando
dicen que en Los Mochis ya se iba cayendo
que llevaba todo el hocico sangrando.

Pero lo miraron pasar por Sonora
y el Valle del Yaqui le dio su ternura
dicen que cojeaba de la pata izquierda
y a pesar de todo siguio en su aventura.

Llego hasta Hermosillo, siguio pa Caborca
y por Mexicali sintio que moria,
subio paso a paso por la Rumorosa
llegando a Tijuana con la luz del dia.

Cumplida su hazana se fue a Rosarito
y no quiso echarse hasta ver Ensenada,
este es el corrido del caballo blanco
que salio un Domingo de Guadalajara.

After listening to the song and reading the book, I could see that Nina martinez is trying hint that Don Pancho is about to venture on this journey once he is dead. In a way, Don Pancho is much like the horse in that it is in search of something and won't stop until reaching its destination. Don Pancho's destination in the story is leaving purgatory. Don Pancho feels trapped in purgatory and finds himself haunting everyone in the story because of his sufferings. In the end he finds a way to leave purgatory and become a saint.

Songs as Setting

From personal experience, we know that songs or musical background can really dictate the mood or feeling in the room - especially at a dance or a party. Not only does music contribute greatly to the atmosphere, but it identifies us with those around us as we can't help but listen to, sway to, or react to a piece of culture together. While music sets a physical, audible place in the Big Five Four for the club-like atmosphere Sway and Natalie enjoy every weekend, it also contextualizes the character in a certain culture, spirit, and perceived time frame for this scene.

Natalie"two-steps" out of the bathroom to the sound of "Hey Baby Que Paso," which the book describes as a "Tex-Mex" song she was particularly fond of. The song is playful, upbeat, and sung in Spanglish by the band Texas Tornados, many of whom are Anglo musicians. The accordion and steady drum beats are characteristic of some mariachi music but the keyboarding and slide guitar also give the tune a characteristic Texas ring.

Though the song sends a very different sentiment, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," is similar in it's Tex-Mex-ness in the sense that it is a slow, bluesy country ballad sung by a Tejano - Freddy Fender - in the typical style of a song-bird cantador. The song plays while Sway dances with Cal (who has always been sweet on her - in vain). This is an appropriate setting of place for this older, smokey dance hall full of younger women and older men who are looking for a good time on the weekend but not necessarily serious relationships. It also seems to place the Big-Five-Four in a bygone era - the song feels very much like a 50's country song even though it was sung in the 70's. freddy-fender.jpg

I think both songs communicate Natalie and Sway's "place" in they country/Tex-Mex, borderland of Lava Landing. The songs paint an audible picture of towns stuck in a time past and people stuck "wasting days and nights" intentionally. They are rather playful songs, but they also communicate the sense of longing that Martinez will continue to communicate throughout the novel for commitment and love.
Song does more than provide a strong sense of place in "Caramba;" It also puts words to the emotions that each woman is feeling in the story. On page 49, the reader is provided with the back story to April May and her long reign as Miss Magma. Although most people have the perception that beauty queens are beautiful creatures, April May is described as ugly with her freckles, large teeth, pimple-ridden skin and her large feet. For her performance, she roller skates to "Red Hot," which, to me is a tribute to her hair. The song lyrics say,"
My gal is red hot
(Your gal ain't doodly-squat)
Yeah, my gal is red hot
(Your gal ain't doodly-squat)
Well, she ain't got no money
But man, she's a-really got a lot.

In the context, "money," could symbolize good looks, but "she's a-really got a lot" symbolizes the power of her hair, which the author says made her so hot when she said, "She had the brightest, reddest hair in all of Lava County....there was something about all that red hair spilling out of the crater and onto the side of the volcano float." When the song says "Well, she walks all night, talks all day
She's the kinda woman who'll have her way," this could illustrate her determination to stay queen and her way of getting what she wants. The author mentions that "April May was always last to exhibit her talent" during the competition. Her determination is also seen when her hair refuses to abdicate the crown.

Lucha tells Favy,"life gives out very few good opportunities, so when one comes along, a girl's got to make the best of it." Lucha and Favy were on their way to a drug deal, but, when the opportunity presented itself for Favy to find her voice, they pounced on it. The author says that Fabiola, "takes a big, deep breath, as if trying to make up for more than just lost time." Throughout the work, Fabiola seems to be trapped in the time that the "susto" was done to her. By singing, her voice draws in power and transports her out of that time and into the present. No longer is she, as the song calls it, a

"A little dove upon flying
Bearing a wounded breast."

Through her singing, she moves from darkness into light and, seemingly, away from the ocean of despair that she seems to be drowning in, as in "Cigarra" when it makes reference to there being,"another color blacker
Than the color of my sorrows."

April May and Fabiola give sense of place because they are also representations of a volcano about to errupt. When the author writes, "At first, she sings slowly and softly, all the while gathering momentum and volume," it's as if she's describing the moments before a volcano blows and, when she says,"Fabiola sings slowly, and surely, but moreover inevitably, so that by the second verse her voice is as loud and sure of itself," this is representative of the flow of magma boiling over and conquering everything in its path. After Favy destroys the crown, the people expect April May to ride in and save the day, but she chooses to finish her performance. When she falls, her hair described as "long fiery hair has never been longer, has never been thicker, has never been fierier," alludes to the magma that will cover the town. When she screams a scream that is "full of everything that screams are made of," she becomes the voice of the volcano that, like her, has been complacent and and,in essence, her rage and fury at being supplanted become the impetus that causes the volcano to blow.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

“Sense of place” can either be described as a physical geographical location or the meaning people, in this case the characters, give to a specific location, person or object. In my opinion, I think Nina Marie Martinez refers to “sense of place” to describe the emotional and physical place each character has on each other’s life. In the Big Five-Four scene on page 13, and the one on page 250, Martinez associates the song “Hey baby, ¿Qué pasó?” with Natalie “a text-mex tune she was particularly fond of” (14) while the song “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” is associated with Consuelo. Not only do the songs describe the girl’s personalities but it also serves as a revelation of their intimate love they have for each other.

“Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?” is a danceable song, with an up beat whose lyrics both in English and Spanish are magically interwoven to compose the best declaration of love. Natalie’s personality, just like the rhythm of the song, is adventurous and fun, and who is more likely to take initiative on things. Consuelo, on the other hand, is best described by the rhythm of “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” whose slow beat and romantic tone, describes her shyness and hesitation to take the lead.
Most importantly, this song not only describes Consuelo’s and Natalie’s personalities, but I believe is a revelation of their intimate “love” for each other. In “Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?” the verse:

Come on, baby, turn around
Let me see your pretty blue eyes
Don't you know that I love you
Please don't leave me de ese modo.

This verse made me think of Consuelo (who in fact have colored eyes)when she accepts to dance with Cal, making Natalie jealous causing her to respond with that verse.

On the other hand, “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” Consuelo responds to Natalie with the following verse:

Don't you remember the day.
That you went away and left me
I was so lonely
Prayed for you only, my love.

Is this Consuelo reminding Natalie of the time she went to Mexico and left her all lonely in Lava Landing?

Even though Martinez never establishes the sexuality of Consuelo and Nathalie, I think she gives us a clue on page 343 when Javier goes to Consuelo’s house to declare his love for Nathalie. Martinez writes “When it comes to Natalie, jealously has always been an issue for Consuelo. Its one thing to watch Nat kickin up her heels dancing the night away with some stray cute thang on Saturday night, but to have a young man in her very own livin room declaring long-felt feeling for her best friend is another thing entirely.” I believe Natalie and Consuelo are afraid of accepting their love not only as “best friends” but a more intimate love, that usually happens between a man and a woman. Therefore, their only way of expressing their love is through these two songs: “Hey baby, ¿Qué Pasó?” and “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights”.

THE BIG FIVE-FOUR *sense of place

Examining one of these two scenes and listening to the attendant songs, explain how the songs either provide a sense of place or complicate the reader's sense of place. You will need first to describe what "sense of place" means in the scene in particular: what defines the place in question. Then, think about the nature of the songs, how they interact with the "place" you have described/defined, and what that suggests about "place" in general in the novel.

Define the term of sense of place.- I was not sure what it means exactly. So when I looked it up online, I found out how place doesn't always describe itself geographically but it could describe by people's feeling or perception. "It is often used in relation to those characteristics that make a place special or unique, as well as to those that foster a sense of authentic human attachment and belonging." (wikipedia)

According to the book- When Natalie came out from the bathroom, she was going to the place, the song Hey baby Que Paso was playing. When I listen to that song in the classroom on friday and read it again, the sense of place felt different. It was different than reading book when I never head the song. I could feel that place with the music. The song itself is really upbeat. Joyful and light. Especially Natalie character an the song just match and perfect for that place for the story I think.

"Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?"

Hey, baby, que paso?
Thought I was your only vato
Hey, baby, que paso?
Please don't leave me de ese modo

Come on, baby, turn around
Let me show you how I feel
Don't you that I love you
And my corazón is real

For the lyrics, I have to translate them first to understand every sentence.
Que paso? = What's up baby?
de ese modo= please don't leave me like this
corazon= And my heart is real

When I heard the music I thought it's just fun and light music but the lyrics are kind of sad and heavy. However Natalie is not a serious woman like music lyrics. I believe that music describe the place and Natalie with the beat only not with lyrics. I don't think Natalie would get moody and heavy serious heart like the lyrics when she listen to that song. She was just ready to enjoy that place I think.

and later when the song "Wasted Day and Wasted Nights" plays and Cal and Consuelo are dancing. and Also Javier leaned toward Natalie. I think this song is really romantic and sweet. LIke the rhythm is slow but fast and the tone is good music for man and woman to dance and talk. Great ambience for that place and scene.

"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights"

Wasted days and wasted nights,
I have left for you Behind
for you don't belong to me
your heart belongs to someone else.

Why should I keep loving you,
when I know that you're Not true?
And why should I call your name,
when you're to blame
for making me Blue?

First of all, the title fits perfect for those meeting between man and woman in that scene.
That night in that place, it was not serious meeting for marriage or anything.
People can meet and leave each other. The time can be wasted for day or night. The song is not describing perfect love, woman heart went to other guy and the guy who loves her think about to not keep love her anymore. That place is not holy and faithful I think. More like having fun dancing and talking in the place in that night.

The songs fit on that place and people in the story I believe and listening to the music for the blog discussion, helped me to catch and see more for the sense of place.


Luis Montes

Examining one of these two scenes and listening to the attendant songs, explain how the songs either provide a sense of place or complicate the reader's sense of place. You will need first to describe what "sense of place" means in the scene in particular: what defines the place in question. Then, think about the nature of the songs, how they interact with the "place" you have described/defined, and what that suggests about "place" in general in the novel.

Sense of place is a characteristic people adjoin to a place giving it feeling or perception, which means that it is a human development of what a place should feel like or mean. Sense of place is a human interaction that allows a place to become special or unique. It also plays an important role in authentic human attachment and belonging. What would be a church without a human’s “sense of place”? would it be solemn, peaceful, and warm or just another building. If we did not develop a sense of place how would it feel to visit grandma on the weekend where you spent many days as a child. I believe it would not be the same it would not feel the same. I think people do things in relation to where their at which plays into what they feel at that place.

The scene I chose is the one were Don Pancho is singing “la cansion del caballo blanco” on the railroad track of his town in Mexico. This song sets up the location by showing you tradition, warmth, and nostalgia things that to an old Mexican town would convey. It is as if the town is still stuck in an older era and this song is a reflection of that sense of place. Don Pancho being an old school cat as he is that song would be the most logical song he would sing. You can expect him to sing a new age song like “Elvis Preasly’s – Can’t help falling in love” as he drink his tequila in his truck. Signing something other that an old corridor would take away that sense of place that the town has and with it the value of what that scene is trying to convey, which is a midlife crossroads of life and death purpose and accomplishment with Don Pancho at the center.

A Sense of Place

The "sense of place" Martínez talks about builds upon the literary term "setting"; the "sense" of place is more than simply describing when and where the action is taking place. It gives the reader a better idea of the characters in the book and what's going on around them. In ¡Caramba!, where Natalie and Consuelo are at the Big Five-Four, "Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" are playing from the jukebox. But why are those songs playing in the background? Even more, why should the song titles be mentioned in the first place? Upon further investigation, that's where the "sense of place" comes in.

A sampling of "Hey Baby, ¿Qué Pasó?":
Hey, baby, que paso?
Thought I was your only vato
Hey, baby, que paso?
Please don't leave me de ese modo

Come on, baby, turn around
Let me show you how I feel
Don't you that I love you
And my corazón is real
Based upon the Texas Tornadoes' rendition, "Hey Baby" is a fun, light-hearted song. It's supposed to be something catchy, crowd-pleasing, and danceable, even though the lyrics sing about a man longing for her lover to come back. The reason why this song plays as Natalie walks out of the bathroom is because it acts as her theme song: she likes to have fun, and she's not looking for a serious relationship.

"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" (again, a sample):
Wasted days and wasted nights,
I have left for you Behind
for you don't belong to me,
your heart belongs to someone else.

Why should I keep loving you,
when I know that you're Not true?
And why should I call your name,
when you're to blame
for making me Blue?
This song starts playing when Cid is rejected by Consuelo. According to the book, he's had a crush on Consuelo "since the day he made her acquaintance, roughly ten years ago." Upon listening to Freddy Fender's performance, it's a slow, but very sentimental song. After reading the lyrics, the reader can conclude that Cid really likes Consuelo, but after ten years of rejection, he's not sure if he should keep pursuing her.

Despite their significance in the story, they're not very deep or introspective songs; they're simple to understand. Even while digging through YouTube, there aren't numerous "versions" or "interpretations" than some of the other songs mentioned in this class. Nonetheless, they are important in character development.

However, this scene's "sense of place" may confuse the reader more than it clarifies. Normally, the character developments are all in the book, and it shouldn't require outside research to get a sense of what's going on. But Martínez inserts these songs assuming the reader knows what she is alluding to. So for those who aren't familiar with mariachi or rockabilly music, they're just titles to a song.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Big Five-Four jukebox

In the Big Five-Four, the songs "Hey Baby, Que Paso?" and "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" are heard by protagonists Natalie and Sway. Every weekend the girls put on their best outfits and head to the dance hall to flirt with the men and dance the night away. The song "Hey Baby, Que Paso?" is mentioned when Natalie is coming out of the bathroom in the Big Five-Four. After listening to the song, I view it as a very upbeat, flirtatious dancing song. Natalie's character is much like the song; she is a very outgoing person and although she tends to flirt with many men at the Big Five-Four, she is not looking for a serious relationship. When "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" is heard on the jukebox, we have Consuelo being asked to dance by Cal, who "had been sweet on her ever since the day he made her aquaintance". Consuelo plays hard to get and asks him that if she dances with him be better promise that he will enjoy it real well. Consuelo has a very flirtatious personality with men and loves having all of them focus on her. I believe that both of the songs provide a strong sense of place for both characters and show why the girls pick that place to hang out on the weekends. Natalie and Sway are best friends and love to have a good time. The songs that are played at the Big Five-Four somewhat describe the type of place it is. Both songs are dancing songs, and are more flirtatious songs than serious romantic songs. I think that the songs that are played at the Big Five-Four really connect with Natalie and Sway. I think they find a sense of belonging there, they are not looking for serious relationships but do want to have fun with men. However, at the end of the night, they go home with each other. The song "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" really seems to describe Natalie and Sway's friendship, they spend pretty much all day with each other and then "waste" the night together as well. I think the songs provide a sense of place for both characters because they are comfortable with their lifestyle and enjoy flirting with guys, but would rather spend most of their time with each other.

Monday, November 2, 2009


In an interview with Random House, Nina Marie Martinez claims that the songs on the jukebox at the Big Five-Four provide the reader with "a better sense of place." She goes on to say that as she was writing there was always either mariachi or rockabilly playing in the background. In one early scene at the Big Five-Four, Texas Tornados' "Hey Baby, Que Paso?" plays, followed by Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" (pp. 14-15).

Later (p. 49), we learn that April May performs her skating act to Billy Lee Riley's rockabilly hit, "Red Hot," the song actually playing as the Queen begins her routine only to be interrupted by Favy's award-winning rendition of "La Cigarra" (p. 358).

Examining one of these two scenes and listening to the attendant songs, explain how the songs either provide a sense of place or complicate the reader's sense of place. You will need first to describe what "sense of place" means in the scene in particular: what defines the place in question. Then, think about the nature of the songs, how they interact with the "place" you have described/defined, and what that suggests about "place" in general in the novel.