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Mexicans Move To The United States English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 4454 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Nowadays, we can see how many Mexicans move to the United States of America looking for a better life. It is a reality in the US how many gardeners, housekeepers, waitresses, and cashiers are Mexican workers. Many times we see that Mexican women that work as housekeepers on American homes, are constantly socializing with the children and adults that live in the houses they are working in. Children normally look up to people who surround them, and imitate their actions by learning from them. Even if the housekeeper weren’t Mexican, kids would naturally learn from what they see and learn from them. In the case of the movie “Spanglish”, the housekeeper, Flor, is a Mexican, and throughout the movie we can see how the two American children that live in the house she works in, are slowly learning from her with respect to her values. They start to adopt them and show them in their lives. This has affected the American culture due to the evident mixture of cultures that comes along with Mexicans living and working in the United States. Children are the ones who will operate and manage the country, and they grow up raised, in part, by these Mexican women, so it is clear that this will have an effect on the way societies live on the US, as well as in their culture.

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After watching the movie “Spanglish”, analyze it, and reading books about Mexicans in the United States; their purposes and impacts on the American society, the conclusion of this extended essay is that even though Mexicans are certainly not fundamental in the formation and development of an American family, they interact so much with them that they become a part of their lives, and unconsciously learn from them, and this slowly changes America’s culture.

(Number of word: 300)


This extended essay pretends to analyze the movie “Spanglish” (2004) from director and writer James L. Brooks, to demonstrate the influence in American children when they socialize with Mexicans when they move to the United States of America looking for better opportunities and a better way of life, especially Mexican woman. This movie is about how Flor Moreno moves in with the Clasky’s family and brings along her daughter, Cristina, with her. Flor works as a housekeeper for the family, and as soon as they started living with the Clasky’s, they start having troubles with language, the differences in their values, and their cultures.

For that reason, the question that this extended essay desires to answer is How does the movie “Spanglish” shows the influence in American families when Mexicans move to live and work in American societies?

Concentrating in reaching the impact in the American families’ values when they live and socialize with Mexicans. This will be done by researching in books about Mexicans in the USA and analyzing the movie “Spanglish”, concentrating on the effect that families have by interacting with Mexican working women.

As a young, Mexican woman who lives in a border city next to the United States, I see the effects that American families have by interacting so much with Mexicans. Therefore, my objective is to investigate to what extend does this happen, specially with Mexican woman and American families. The movie “Spanglish” shows an example of how this happens. Throughout the essay, I will compare the American family’s values when they are constantly socializing with a Mexican woman, and when they are not.


When Mexicans go to the United States, they most likely want to achieve the “American Dream”. California offers opportunities to this people that can’t be offered anywhere else. The “California Dream” includes several factors, for example, the Gold Rush, and its continue legacy of easy money and broken hopes, the sense of autonomy which came from an overnight development, years ahead of the advancing frontier, the varieties of people who arrived, and that they brought along. [1] California represents the hope of better work, better salaries, and overall a better life. In the movie Spanglish [2] , Flor Moreno and her daughter move to Los Angeles. At first they lived for six years in a town that was not that different from their home in Mexico. Flor worked two jobs paying a total of 450 dollars a week. They lived with one of their cousins.

Normally, in California, most Hispanics live in the southern part of the state. In Los Angeles, Mexicans are concentrated in the eastern part of the city. Linguistically and culturally these barrios give cohesion and security to Hispanic immigrants who keep residing in the barrio mainly for economic reasons. In stated such as California, Hispanic children and youth are the largest minority population. In this state, Hispanics constitute about 19 percent of the population. These patterns are a reflection of the history of these states where Mexicans were the first settlers and have emigrated in large numbers. [3] When Flor and Cristina Moreno (her daughter) first move to L.A, the lived in one of these barrios, and everything seemed so alike to what they were used to in Mexico. The people there spoke Spanish, Flor was able to work with things she knew how to do, like laundry, and Cristina was able to play with kids her age that came from the same roots as her. Living in concentrated areas helps to preserve their native culture.

Traditional beliefs such as baptisms, weddings, confirmations, are opportunities to revitalize cultural and ethnic customs and beliefs. [4] Hispanics in the United States keep their original identities and cultural patterns of living, making Hispanic a distinctive and unique ethnic group in the United States and, although they may not adopt other cultural and linguistic characteristics, they keep practicing those patterns that identify them as Dominicans, Colombians, [and in this case], Mexicans, and not merely Hispanics. [5] 

Hispanics are a population in need of financial resources. They suffer from a variety of economic and social problems such as unemployment, poor housing, and inadequate health care, among others. [6] This is not exactly the case of Flor and her daughter, but they do need more money than what they were making. That is exactly the reason why Flor accepts to work with the Clasky family when she was offered to.

It is important to know the content of the movie for a complete comprehension of how the American culture becomes affected by Mexicans working in their country. When Flor first enter the Clasky’s house, she is amazed by all the things that she sees because it is very different from the barrio where she lives. She has an interview with Deborah Clasky, the woman of the house. She doesn’t work. She likes to make a lot of exercise and shows a very anxious attitude towards everything. She introduces her daughter, Bernice, and his son, Georgie, to Flor and her cousin, who had accompanied her for the interview. They also meet Deborah’s mother, Evelyn, who seems to be the only one who really understands her anxious daughter. Deborah tells Flor that she is perfect for the job. Then she finds out that she doesn’t speak any English, but decides that it wouldn’t be a problem.

Flor thanks her and leaves the house. Throughout the whole movie, she always shows to have good values.

Feminism is one of the first vales that we can analyze from Flor. When she tells Cristina that she got the job, they go out for dinner to celebrate. While being in the restaurant, two men invite her some drinks. This action really offended Flor and asks the waitress to tell the men that she wants them to be respectful, and ask them to notice that she is with her daughter and that accepting those drinks would be a bad example for her child. This also shows that she is a very proud person.

The Clasky family seems to have a set of values of their own. John Clasky is an excellent chef who shows that he is respectful, caring, and a gentleman. He often offers to open the door to Flor, and always thanks her for the things she does. There is a scene in the movie where Deborah buys some clothes to Bernice, but she purposely bought them a size smaller than what she really is, with the objective of making her daughter loose weight. This makes Bernice cry and get angry with her mother for making her feel overweight. John and Flor were worried about Bernice’s self esteem after how Deborah had treated her, even though she said it was the best for her. Flor decides to steel those new clothes for a night and fix them, so that they were bigger and they fit Bernice. This shows how kind, understanding, and generous Flor was, because she did this favor to Bernice even though she had just met her, and even though she took the clothes without permission, her intentions where never to keep them.

We can see throughout the movie that Flor never lets Cristina disobey her or be rude with her. She commands respect at all time, and that is something that you can see in Mexican cultures very often. Mothers tell to their daughters that they must be respectful and to never question any order that they give to their children. When Flor was first trying to learn English, she was repeating some sentences that she wanted to say in that language, and Cristina starts laughing at her. This made Flor turn and look at her daughter boldly and fiercely. Cristina knew immediately that she had to stop laughing, and so she did.

After that, we can see in Cristina’s face that she feels guilty about what she did, because those are her values, and that’s the way she has always been educated.

Later on in the movie, we can see how Bernice gets angry with her mother because she noticed that she normally lies to everyone to get what she wants or that she does things that she knows are wrong and she lies to get away with it. In several occasions, we can tell by Bernice’s facial expressions that she cannot believe that her mother does that, but she keeps quiet and doesn’t raise the voice to her mother, whereas at the beginning of the movie, she does stand up to her mother, she is rude, and she embarrass her. This shows that throughout the movie, Bernice observes the behavior of Cristina towards Flor and imitates those actions to show good conduct, and this is not necessarily to make her mother happy, but she learns that those are good values that simply make her a better person.

Cristina has her own values, which were learnt from her mother. When they accompany the Clasky’s to their house in Malibu, she tells the family that she is thrilled to be there and then she thanks them, probably more times than what were really necessary. This shows that she has a need to make people know what she is thankful for. She wants to show her appreciation and gratitude to the family for giving her the honor of staying with them. The Clasky’s seem very surprised and amazed by this, because normally, their kids aren’t like that, and they don’t seem to know a lot of people as thankful as she is, because if they did, they wouldn’t be so surprised, and it wouldn’t have caused that much impact in them. However, in the last scenes we can see that both, Bernice and Georgie adopt many of the values that they constantly saw on Flor and Cristina. For example, we can see that Georgie becomes a thankful person, and thanked his grandmother, his father, and his mother for things they do for him, even if they are as simple as bringing him food, or reading stories for him.

There is another part of the movie where John asks his two kids and Cristina to look for a specific type of shells and rocks by the sea. Bernice and Georgie didn’t like the game, so they went on and played with a ball. On the contrary, Cristina does the job that John asked her.

The reward that they were going to get for finding the rocks was money. John gave a certain value to the different types of rocks and shells, depending of the size and shape. Cristina spend the entire day looking for them throughout the beach, which made her find the sufficient amount of stones to charge John with about five hundred dollars, which he accepts to pay, because he says that that was what he had promised, and even though she said it was okay and that he didn’t really needed to pay, he kept his promise and paid. This shows how Cristina has learned that when someone offers a job with an economic reward, she must do it, and that she has to be paid for her hard work, dedication, and compromise for that work. She has seen that all her life, looking at how her mother was a hard worker and honest woman and that she was always rewarded with money that allowed them to live. And not just her mother, but her mother’s friends and family did the same. During this movie, when we see Mexican women workers in Los Angeles, we can observe that they typically get the jobs of house cleaning, laundry business, or they have small store departments where they do hair and nails.

Another pair of values that we can see in Flor is dignity and the courage to remain sane. When Deborah takes Cristina to fix her hair and go shopping, Flor gets really worried, anxious, and angry, due to the fact that Deborah left her a note that said that she was literally steeling her daughter for a day. Flor feels like crying the entire day, but when John enters the same room that she is in, she collects the courage to show sanity and calmness, even though she feels completely different. She does this because she wants to keep her dignity, and she feels like nobody can see her cry without them thinking that she is weak, and she would never let John see that. She always represents herself as a strong and independent woman.

Dignity and courage is something we don’t really see in with the Clasky family. However, at the ending of the movie, this changes.

One of the last things that happen in the film is that Deborah tells John that she has been having an affair with another man. This took a great amount of courage from her because she wanted to keep it a secret, but she realized that it was extremely wrong and decided to tell John. What really made her take that decision was that her mother, Evelyn, talked to her about that issue. Evelyn tells her that John was a great man and that she would never find another man like him. Deborah realizes how Flor is always treating John, which was in a very respectful manner, and she notices how Flor is always defending and fighting for what she thinks is right, which might have inspire Deborah to tell the truth. Here we can see how this Mexican woman not only influenced the American children with whom she was now living, but also the adults.

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Another example of this is when John listens to the news his wife just gave him and decides to leave the house to think alone. This shows dignity, because in a certain way he made himself be respected by Deborah when he leaves, because if he would have stayed there with her, he would have shown no respect for himself, since he would show a careless behavior. Earlier in the movie, John and Flor take a walk by the beach, and John implies to her that she makes him want to be a better man, by telling her that she is a very good person that, in a certain way, she inspires other people to be as good as her.

During the period of time in the film that Deborah takes Cristina with her, the girl thanks Deborah for everything, and she tells her that she is the most amazing white woman that she has ever known. Deborah takes this as a huge compliment, and she thanks Cristina for her company, because you can tell by Deborah’s reaction that she and her daughter didn’t really went shopping and doing things together. When they come back, Evelyn, the grandmother, tells Deborah that she can’t take someone else’s daughter and run away the way she did, which just made Deborah very angry. This now shows us the values of Evelyn. She knows that what Deborah did is not right, not in Los Angeles, not in Mexico, or anywhere else.

Evelyn shows a great amount of understanding and consideration for Flor, because she knows how humble and respectful she is towards everybody, and she knows it is not fair that Deborah responded in a completely different way. During the movie, she also thanks Flor for never judging her even though she acts strange sometimes and then she kisses her on the cheek, showing the value of appreciation.

Later on, Deborah justifies her actions by telling John that she just wanted Cristina to feel welcome, which shows that she has sympathy for the kid, but also shows how disrespectful and inconsiderate she is towards Flor, and how she cares only about Cristina.

That is also wrong because she has a daughter of her own who is feeling sad by seeing how her mother has fun with somebody else’s daughter, and when Bernice looks at how much fun her mom and Cristina has without her, she feels really sad and disappointed.

Efforts have been made to try to melt Hispanic immigrants into the American society by having them acquire American values and customs and teaching them English at the expense of their own culture and language. [7] This is represented in the movie when Deborah insists over and over that Cristina should go to the same school as her daughter. She says it is the best option for her, and that she could even get a scholarship. Flor admits to John that she is afraid that Cristina would lose her values and culture if she enters that school, because she had seen it with other people’s children.

Hispanic children and youth are not a homogeneous socioeconomic and educational group. Mexicans have the lowest educational attainment. A significant percentage of Hispanic children and youth share the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures. Language, religious beliefs, family structure and general customs are enhanced among Hispanics.

There is a common denominator of Hispanic culture, especially in the same Hispanic socioeconomic class. Hispanic children have a broad range of language characteristics and need that impact upon their development. [8] For example, Cristina has to languages, Spanish and English. This helps her develop in the way that she can communicate in both languages with no trouble, and while living in the United States, this is a huge advantage for her.

Cristina tells John that their family is Catholics; therefore, they are very familiar with guilt. Flor felt guilty after arguing with John about how Deborah had taken Cristina without her permission. She felt that way because she knows that she is working for them and she should be respectful, and she also feels guilty when she realize that she was being hypocrite for arguing about how Deborah shouldn’t get involve with Cristina’s personal life, but Flor did the same thing with Bernice when she fixed her clothes earlier in the movie. This shows how they do carry their values and religious beliefs anywhere they go. After Flor apologizes for being rude to John Clasky, he follows her example and apologizes back; amazed by the circumstance he is in. He can’t believe that Flor apologized, and he sees that as an action of good manners and decides to do the same, influenced by the values that Flor shows.

Another interesting fact that the movie shows, is that Deborah, an American woman, stays at home and watches the kids, while Flor, a Mexican woman in the United States, is found working all the time, even if she doesn’t know the English Language. Researches have shown that only 8.8 percent of Mexican women have English language proficiency. [9] Despite this, Flor works more than Deborah, even if she has difficulties with communicating because of the language.

The employments and economic opportunities of Mexican workers have been restricted since the annexation of northern Mexico by the United States after the United States- Mexico war of 1846-1848 reformulates the labor market segmentation model, giving race – ethnicity a central focus. Mexicans’ class position integrally bound to the status of their racial – ethnic identities. That is, Mexican ethnicity became synonymous with cheap labor and lower class status as Mexicans became incorporated into subordinate segments of the labor force. [10] Flor and her cousin, who is also a Mexican working in Los Angeles, are seen in the movie as a lower class status. We can see this when they show the house they live in, which is not in the best conditions, and nowhere as big as the Clasky’s house. We can also see this in the way they dress up. Flor and her daughter are wearing common simple clothes, while Deborah is always wearing at least some kind of jewelry and expensive dresses. And finally, we can also see that while John is an important chef, known as one of “the best chefs in America”, Flor is his housekeeper, which reflects a certain level of inferiority.

Flor shows more values when she is learning to speak the English language. She buys a program she saw on television that contains CD’s, a DVD, books, etc., which will help her with her English.

She practices during her working hours, and in her free time. Sometimes, even Evelyn, Georgie, and Bernice practice with her, even though they already speak this language. This shows the value of solidarity from their part.

This now makes us ponder that they have been developing values of their own, and as always, kids make up their own set of values according to what they see in their surrounding, and unconsciously imitating the people they see as authorities or people who they admire. By this time in the movie, Flor has lived with them a long time now, and she is an authority figure that these children look up to. While learning English, Flor shows responsibility, courage, bravery, determination, hard work, dedication, and hope, among others.

Cristina and Flor always show loyalty to their culture, which is extremely important because it shows that they stay true to who they really are, no matter where they are and who they are living with. The also always remain very humble.

In the “Spanglish” DVD, there is a section in the special features content that contains a “Behind the Scene” segment. In there, we can listen to the director, James L. Brooks, speaking about the mixture of cultures and how they collide to make what appears to make a new one. He also says that with this movie he wanted to show an American point of view about how Mexicans socialize in an American home. Even in the title Spanglish shows the mixture of two things, two languages, two countries, and two cultures. In an interview made by Paul Fischer to James Brooks, they asked him how much research did he do before making the movie, his answer was: “Enormous, enormous, enormous. Sitting around tables, sitting at my home, gathering women, hearing great lines, seeing women with their children, having the kids translate, talking to them about that experience.” [11] This shows how he got inspired on something that he saw, and not something that he invented with his imagination. This demonstrates that these situations occur in real life.


Not all American families live with Mexicans, or socialize with them. Their presence is not essential in the development, education, or formation of the American children or in the way the family behaves. However, once they integrate to the daily life of an American family, they will most likely have a great influence on their lives, and not only because of the fact that they share a certain amount of space with them, but because Mexicans carry with them their values and culture, and they never stop showing them. This has an effect on the way these Americans will behave in the future by spending so much time with Mexicans who arrived to their homes or neighborhoods looking for jobs or a better way of life in general. In the case of “Spanglish”, we can conclude that the Clasky’s family did have changes in their lives and in their values by living with Flor and Cristina. They saw that both of them carried values that showed good manners, and that made them likeable. They found them inspiring, which led to the family to imitate what they saw as good values. To emphasize on answering the main question of this extended essay, we can conclude that families that live or are constantly socializing with Mexicans are influenced by them. Even though they are certainly not fundamental in the formation and development of an American child and American families, when they interact so much with them, they become a part of their lives, and unconsciously learn from them, just like all children learn from their surroundings, and these is slowly changing America’s culture, because each day more and more Mexicans immigrate to the USA, and they slowly became a part of its culture.

(Number of words 3, 713)


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