understand the name “Miranda.” It is not clear whether the men
meant Yolanda any harm, but the name "Miranda" acts as a charm andthey suddenly seem benign toward her. They fix her flat tire for her,
refusing her offered payment until she simply stuffs the bills into one’s
pocket. When she drives away, she meets a crying José coming backfrom the Miranda house, where the guard accused the boy of lying andhit him.
The chapter focuses on the socio-economic disparity Yolanda sees inthe Dominican Republic and the ways in which her status as part of awealthy family and as an American-bred girl affect her relations withher family and people she encounters on the Island. To her, manyDominicans seem like prisoners trapped in their rigid social hierarchy.While visiting her wealthy relatives the Mirandas, she uses a simile to
compare the guard in the enclosed estate to “a man locked in a
strangely gorgeous priso
n” (14). The guard later hits José, not
believing that a Dominican woman wealthy enough to own a car wouldbe out picking guavas. This rigid set of expectations for how people of certain classes behave forms part of the structure that perpetuatesstrict division between classes.Yolanda falls into this way of thinking as well when she meets the twolaborers on the road. She assumes they mean to harm her and ispetrified with fear. When they first appear, the description of them isshort and clipped, with di
rect, simple sentences, such as “Macheteshang from their belts” (19). The terse style indicates how Yolanda, in
her fright, sees the men. She notices aspects of them that suggeststrength or violence and therefore indicate ways they might hurt her.When the men mistake her for an American and hear the name of her
wealthy hosts, they are described as becoming “docile” (20), as
though they are wild creatures that can be tamed only by those theybelieve hold higher social status than themselves. They becomeembarrassed by their rough, dirty hands, and Yolanda observes thatthey assume the same pose of looking at the ground that the servantIluminada and young José do. This shared gesture unites manymembers of the lower classes Yolanda has encountered, and markshow universal the mindset of obedience and hierarchy is in thecountry.