chapter  5
21 Pages

Teachers in the Young Adult Fiction of Bambara and Cisneros

WithR. Joseph Rodríguez

A teacher's identity can impact students in varied ways, including the study of young adult literature. As a teacher develops a sense of identity and comes of age among students, students themselves come of age in their teacher's presence and identity formation. This chapter examines two short stories that reflect competing representations of the teacher: Toni Cade Bambara's "Geraldine Moore the Poet" and Sandra Cisneros's "Eleven" which are widely read in middle school grades and appear in many school textbooks, criterion-referenced assessments, and extended-essay examinations for adolescents. Bambara observes and interprets public schooling as an institution with limitations for her own identity development, and teaching as a labor driven heavily by strict rules and behavior management. The female and male youth characters can be described as an amalgamation of Bambara herself in their attempt to form their identities by asserting a dignified acknowledgment in the hands of some adults who either ignore or harm the children and young adults.