A Cup of Water Under My Bed by Daisy Hernandezï essay

ACup of Water Under My Bedby Daisy Hernandezï

Prompt#1: The Theme of Family

ACup of Water under My Bedis a coming of age memoir by DaisyHernandez explaining about her life growing up in a modern-dayimmigrant family. The author narrates of all the problems, joys,risks, anxieties, and opportunities of a complex and multi-facetedsociety. In the memoir, the writer provides a radiant prose thattouches readers’ hearts and also challenges their minds to expandand comprehend certain controversial issues in the society. Hernandeztakes readers to varied places and challenges their comfort zonesparticularly the contented middle-class audiences. Throughout thebook, she discusses religion, education, class, race, socialmobility, immigration, family, and self-awareness to explore theconsequences of such factors to a young woman growing up in thepresent United States. In the memoir, readers get to understand thestruggles the writer encountered when she had to separate from herfamily and leave them behind. The text chronicles what the women inthe Cuban-Colombian family taught Hernandez concerning money, race,love, happiness, and opportunities. Therefore, the account is aheartfelt exploration of identity, family, and language through thelife of a daughter that is finding her community and herself, as wellas leading a new, queer adult life.

Hernandez’sRelationship with Her Family

Hernandez’sparents lacked proficiency in English because they only conversed inSpanish at home, which was problematic at times for her tocommunicate with them. They were torn from their roots and wereseeking to enhance themselves in the land of opportunities. Their jobethic and close knit family helped them cope with the circumstancesof being away from home. As the first generation child of animmigrant family, her parents ensured that she had a betteropportunity at education, life, language, and love than they had. Herparents did not have lucrative jobs as immigrants. Her father workedas a maintenance employee in textile factories while her motherinitially worked in clothing assembly at sweat shops and later athome to support their family. They supported her throughout herchildhood depicting a strong parent and child correlation. The bookis enlightening to all daughters and women and their relationshipswith their families, communities, and their mixed feelings aboutleaving home.

Inthe text, the author writes about the women in her immigrant familyand what they taught her about love, race and money. For example, hermother warns her about men that can seduce a woman using pastries(Hernandez 249). One of her aunts is disappointed that her niece isturning into a ‘una india’ rather than being an American(Hernandez 309). Additionally, another aunt teaches her that when twoindividuals are close, they are like dirty and fingernails tohighlight the aspect of love. Therefore, she uses the women in herlife and family to show lessons learned from colonization,relocation, and portrays what is means to grow up a woman in animmigrant family or home. The women teach her that the primary tiesshe had to formulate are with other family women to indicate theimportance of family relations particularly with other female membersin the family. She explains how her mother and aunts rely on eachother cleaning and shopping among other tasks.

HowHer Family Helps Her Grow or Threaten to Keep Her from Achieving HerGoals

Theauthor was born to a Cuban father and Colombian mother who onlyconversed in Spanish at home. She had left her family when she wasonly five years old and moved to Union City, New Jersey. She learnedEnglish and acquired proficiency when she was sent to a catholicschool. As such, growing up for her was a continuous process ofleaving her immigrant family. She explains that she left them at theage five to learn English and continued to leave them through theprocess of obtaining an education during her childhood in New Jersey.However, as she matured and pursued her career and personal pursuits,she had to work at reducing and reconciling the growing distance as ameans of retaining her heritage and showing love for her family.Therefore, by allowing her to pursue an education and learn English,Hernandez’s family helps her grow with better opportunities.

However,while Hernandez loves her family, she sometimes views it as hinderingher self-knowledge and identity. She is a woman that is interested inbisexual and lesbian relationships. However, her sexual orientationdoes not appeal to her family. Thus, at some point she has to defythe dictates of class and race that her aunts and mother possess andpursue her independence as a female that dates other women andtransgender people to attain her identity as a bisexual. Hernandezwrites about bisexuality with glee and acceptance. Nonetheless, herparents and aunts do not contain the same views as Hernandez. Whileshe maps the space of transgender identities in a fresh andinteresting way, her family firmly opposes the issue. She struggleswith her mother and aunts’ views about her sexual orientation. Shewrites that it is difficult to imagine people that have notexperienced the bisexual relations to understand the weight of thematter (Hernandez 248). As she matured into sexuality and adulthood,she pleased her parents by dating a gringo who later dumped her(Hernandez 216). Nonetheless, when she discovered her desire fortransgender and lesbian women her family castigated her (Hernandez328). She struggled to be true to herself as a queer woman instead ofbeing a bisexual and whitewashed Latina. Based on their opposition toher sexual choices, it can be stated that her family was a threat toHernandez achieving her goal as a bisexual being.

Additionally,her father can be viewed as hampering her growth as a writer. Forexample, when Hernandez told her father that she wanted to be anauthor he had respondent that she had gone crazy (Hernandez 51).Accordingly, he was not supporting her dream to become an author butinstead opposed the idea vehemently. Even so, Hernandez did not letthe misconceptions of her family to deter her from pursuing herdream. She explains that storytelling was in her blood as her motherloved to share tales about her immigration from Columbia. The writerexplains that before her mother moved to the U.S., she had heard thatmoney grew on trees (Hernandez 72). However, upon arriving instead offinding and picking cash from the ground like leaves, she found lifedifferent and had to secure employment at a factory. Moreover, theauthor explains that the stories of the women in her family inspiredand enlightened her. Through the tales she heard about her femalerelatives and their strengths, she created her map of life andrelationships. Her female household members taught her about the mento date and marry. Consequently, when she brought home her firstColumbian boyfriend her mother and aunties were disappointed in her.She explains that instead of Columbian man, they preferred anAmerican one because they believed that anything made in Americaworks (Hernandez 216).

Hernandezlauds her family for their contribution to the woman she is today.She explains that her family wanted her to achieve more in life thanthey could. They wanted her to learn English, and becomeAmericanized. As such, this was the impression her parents andrelatives had of her. Her female family members even wanted her toget married to an American as opposed to a person from her heritage.Hence, the expectations of her family had both negative and positiveconsequences in her life. By learning a new language that sheacquired by nationality as opposed to ethnicity it translated in hergrowing further away from her family and adopting an attitude of anindividual that had no past, history, or culture. Consequently, thisrobbed her much of her colorful dual heritage, which formed thefoundation of her identity. Hence, the obsession of transformingHernandez into an Americanized woman was detrimental to her since shedid not truly embrace her ethnicity as she would have liked. However,given her success, education, independence, and career, it could beargued that her family contributed positively in her life by ensuringthat she had better opportunities in life.


Ultimately,Hernandez uses her book to highlight to readers how family can affectone’s success and choices in life. Throughout the book, the authordiscusses the importance of family relations culture, and heritage.She provides a thoughtful and warm manuscript about living andredefining success at the intersection of ethnic, social, and racialdifferences. Although her family becomes a hindrance in her datingand love life, it also lauds her efforts for achieving a middle-classsuccess when she becomes a NewYork Timesreporter (Hernandez423).Her book teaches readers that acculturation can affect one eithernegatively or positively like a double edged sword. Therefore, onehas to find a way to reconcile her ethnicity, religion, culture, andcolor with the behavior or classification of the otherness. Moreover,the book teaches us that learning a new language separates one fromtheir community as well as opens opportunities. The book is anexceptional text that informs readers not to be afraid to exploretheir interests in the face of restrictions from culture, family,traditions, and religion among others.


Hernandez,Daisy. ACup of Water under My Bed: A Memoir. NewYork. Beacon Press. 2014. Print.