Author (Your Name)

Kimberly Lynch, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. American Studies Program




As he watches the peculiar gestures of his teacher and struggles to understand her words, he wonders what his family meant when they said he would encounter "new opportunities" in North America. He understands that his teacher is conducting a lesson about American history, but he is confused about how it relates to the pride he has developed at home in his Mexican heritage. His teacher seems confident that he will learn to speak English and eventually adapt to the American way of life. Yet Pedro feels inadequate next to his classmates who speak English and at the end of each day can hardly wan to return home where he can be understood not just linguistically but emotionally. What Pedro's teacher and many Americans grossly underestimate is the loss of culture that occurs when Hispanics give up their language in this country. The assimilationist theory of our "melting pot" nation creates an oppressive environment for many Mexican-Americans. This paper will defend the Hispanic position that favors cultural pluralism through an examination of the Spanish-speaking culture as it exists in California.


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Politics and culture -- California, Hispanic Americans -- California, Hispanic Americans -- Cultural assimilation, Hispanic Americans -- Ethnic identity, Hispanic Americans -- Education, Mexican Americans -- Social conditions