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Olivas, Alexis

Professor Batty

English 101

15 May 2017

What Makes a Saint a Saint?

As defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a saint is a person who is admired or

venerated because of their virtue. In the book Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza which is

interconnects different narrative viewpoints of Perla, the owner of a Botnica in the center of the

Southern California Agua Mansa community, and her customers. There is a character which is

not precisely a customer of Perla which shows saintlike characteristics. The characters name is

Blanca. Blanca is the sister of a main character in the book called Rosa. The relationship she has

with her sister shows how she is saintlike. Rosa is hard on herself due to her weight and Blanca

tries to instill confidence. Although some may say that Blanca only acts the way she does

towards her sister because she is all about self-image, she becomes greater than that because

despite growing up and dealing with how her mother is she still shows a true saintlike

characteristic by trying to give empowerment to her sister to make her embrace how she is.

A hardship Rosa has faced all her life is dealing with how her mother acts. In summary,

both Blanca and Rosa have a mother who is all about self-image ever since suffering about about

being fat when young and successfully lost weight. Blancas mothers triumph makes her want

her daughters to look as best as they can. In an article called Parents May Have Big Impact on

Career Choices by Jeanette Mulvey she explains how research indicates that the way a child

turns out can be determined in large part by the day-to-day decisions made by the parents who

guide that child's growth. This means that the decision of her mother to have talks about self-
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esteem and self-perception, about how men not wanting to marry fat women (Espinoza, p.14)

latched on to her has a great possibility to have influenced how Blanca is as a person. Another

factor that might influence her to be so much like her mother is the way her father was. Her

father was addicted to gambling and was kicked out of the house when she was three-years-old

(Espinoza, p.14). This in a way leans her to feel closer to her mother because after all she is the

one who protected them from a harmful person like her father and she is grateful.

As for her choices, such as her career, her mother was a very strong influence. In another

article titled Fostering a Positive Self-Image by Cleveland Clinic it also re enforces that Self-

image is a product of learning. Early childhood influences, such as parents and caregivers, have a

major influence on our self-image. They are mirrors reflecting back to us an image of ourselves.

Blanca was greatly influenced by her mother to worry and care so much about her self-image.

Therefore, it could be said that this influence is what strongly leans her to become a makeup

artist and hair stylist. Through this however, some characteristics that make Blanca inspire

empowerment is her high self-esteem and confidence.

How Blanca exactly inspired this empowerment can be shown and backed up by the way

Espinoza described a scene between Blanca and her sister, Rosa. In this scene Rosa is explaining

how Blanca is doing her hair and makeup. Rosa then removes it all off and Blanca gets upset and

tells her that she mopes too much and that [she] should be more confident. Rosa explains that

it is hard to be confident when you weigh as much as [her]. Blancas confidence is saintlike by

trying to instill these traits on her sister and trying to help her love herself how she is. She does

not say that explicitly but she is showing it by trying to help her by prettying her up and

reminding her that she should not just feel bad about herself. Although Blanca isnt shown as

doing much in this chapter those small reminders to her sister to feel better about herself adds to
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the saintlike characteristic of giving empowerment. In this case Blanca tries to instill self-

empowerment on her unconfident sister. In a book titled Race and Colorism in Education by

Carla Monroe it states that Psychologists suggest that children, especially girls, need to develop

a sense of healthy narcissism, which refers to a self-love and confidence in the idea that they are

beautiful and desirable. It is shown that what Blanca is slowly helping her sister in a scene

where Cecilia, supervisor at Las Glorias Market where Rosa works as a cashier, asks her if she

has a boyfriend and gets surprised when she responds that she does not followed by the

comment, That surprises me. Youre way pretty. Rosa then begins to think about how her

sister believes this too because she is always trying to do her makeup and nails. Also, the readers

get a sign about how she truly cares about her sister and is not just the way she is because she is

all about self-image when Blanca makes plans with her sister to open a beauty salon which do

not exclude Rosa. It shows how Blanca wants and likes to be with her sister and only wants to

support her.

In conclusion, Blanca follows the definition of a saint by being admirable for the sister

she is. She provides her sister a characteristic which she lacks due to her mother being so harsh

on her. It could be said that without her sister in her early years Rosa would be even more

unconfident and self-shaming than what she is now. Blanca is more than just a person who cares

about her self-image. She is a person who uses a characteristic known for having negative

connotations and transforms it to be something very helpful and useful for someone she deeply

cares about. A characteristic such as the empowerment that Blanca tried to give to Rosa is part of

what makes a Saint a saint.


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Works Cited

Espinoza, Alex. Still Water Saints: A Novel. London: Picador, 2013. Print.

Mulvey, Jeanette. "Parents May Have Big Impact on Career Choices." LiveScience. Purch, 03

Dec. 2010. Web. 15 May 2017.


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Unknown. "Creating A Positive Body-Image Information." Cleveland Clinic. The Cleveland

Clinic Foundation, n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.

"Race and Colorism in Education." Google Books. Ed. Carla Monroe. Routledge, n.d. Web. 15

May 2017.