Barbie-Q by Sandra Cisneros
In Sandra Cisneros's "Barbie-Q", a sudden abundance of flawed Barbie dolls makes the child
narrator accepts her own identity and discards society's ideals of women.
The initial storyworld is that of materialism and perfection. What the narrator values in her dolls and what she plays with them could be seen as a reflection of her own self image, of what she thinks she should look like and what kind of life she should live. From the first few lines of the story it becomes clear that the narrator of the story is a little girl. She describes the outfits of her barbies, as if reading from the package, to her friend. "Yours is the one with mean eyes and a ponytail. Striped swimsuit, stilettos, sunglasses, and gold hoop earrings." The doll's mean eyes reveals the author's critical attitude towards the ideal it represents. This attitude also shows in the title of the story. The Narrator uses second person, as if directly adressing the reader. Who she is talking to is never defined in the story, but it is clear that she is talking to a fellow child. The narration mainly uses only first and second person, which realistically recreates the world of a little girl, where the narrator and her friend are the only people and Barbie dolls the only things that matter.
In the second paragraph, the girls repeat society's gender roles in their play: "Every time the same story. Your Barbie is roommates with my Barbie, my Barbie's boyfriend comes over and your Barbie steals him, okay?" The invisible Ken doll could be seen as the author's way of emphasising her point about society's assuptions of young women's interests. The author makes the scene strange enough to catch the reader's attention.
The flea market scene describes the mundane reality of the narrator's neighbourhood which is contrasted with the girl's aspirations that are projected to barbie dolls that represent a different social background and lifestyle. The narrator lists the items in the flea markets just like she did with her dolls: "Lying on the street next to some tool bits, and platform shoes with the heels all squashed, and a fluorescent green wicker wastebasket, and aluminum foil, and hubcaps, and a pink shag rug, and windshield wiper blades, and dusty mason jars, and coffee can full of rusty nails." This emphasises the contrast. The initial story world is disrupted in the flea market scene as the narrator finds flawed Barbies for sale. This scene develops in the next paragraph as the narrator gets all the Barbies she dreamed of, only all of them damaged by a fire.
In the last
paragraph, the narrator seems to accept her own social background as she
understands that it doesn't matter that they can't afford all the new Barbie dolls.
"So what if we didn't get our new Bendable Legs Barbie and Midge and Ken and
Skipper and Tutti and Todd and Scooter and Rickie and Alan and Francie in nice
clean boxes and had to buy them on