Postcolonial Critique of | Teen Ink

Postcolonial Critique of

October 23, 2021
By jackpilot GOLD, New York City, New York
jackpilot GOLD, New York City, New York
14 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” — Mary Shelley

“The Stolen Party” by Liliana Hecker explores Rosaura’s loss of innocence, as she is initially unaware of the social inequalities that exist and believes that the world is a fair place. Rosaura is elated to go to Luciana’s birthday party, where her mother worked as a maid, but she believes she is invited due to their friendship. Rosaura’s mother knows that she will not be viewed as an equal by the kids, and as she suspected, she is treated as staff at the party. The story depicts a post-colonial society as Luciana’s family is superior to Rosaura and her mother, and their interactions draw a line between the working and upper classes. The author sympathizes with Rosaura because she initially introduces her as a fun, loving, innocent young lady who is excited to attend a party but is crushed by the harsh reality of the social hierarchy. The author’s use of the third person leads the reader to feel the shock that Rosaura experiences at the end of the story. Rosaura is under the illusion that there are no social barriers dividing her and Luciana, but as the story progresses, she comes to the realization that it is the polar opposite. 

Rosaura is under the impression that she is invited to Luciana’s birthday party as a guest because from her perspective they are friends, but her mother is quick to burst her daughter’s naive bubble. In an effort to protect her daughter, Rosaura’s mother attempts to ingrain in her their place in society. She says, "That one’s not your friend. You know what you are to them? The maid’s daughter, that’s what." The mother is aware that her dynamic with Senora Ines is strictly transactional; they are the subalterns working for the aristocrat. This power structure mirrors a post-colonial society, in which Senora Ines and Luciana represent the Occident, while Rosaura and her mother take the place of the Orient. Double consciousness plays a key role in her mother’s understanding of her place in the world. While she can draw the line between her family and Senora Ines’,  Rosaura’s naivety blurs her understanding of the division of class that defines her place in society. Her mother emphasizes that she is the “maid’s daughter” to explain to Rosaura that she will not be equal to the other children that attend due to hierarchical structure and the difference in class. 

At the party, Luciana’s cousin reinforces the fact that Rosaura and Luciana are not friends, as she questions her background. Luciana’s cousin’s approach displays her assumption of her own superiority, degrading Rosaura by indirectly offending her. During her interaction with Rosaura, she says, "you are not a friend of Luciana because I'm her cousin and I know all her friends. And I don't know you." The cousin exposes Rosaura’s naive understanding of what it means to be friends, mirroring the same sentiment that her mother had. She tries to defend the friendship by explaining that she and Luciana do homework together, but the cousin dismisses that reasoning. From the cousin’s colonial ideology, Rosaura and Luciana are not friends due to her being “the daughter of the employee,” making Rosaura the subaltern in a society that clearly divides the working class and the aristocrat.  Rosaura doesn’t mix with the circle of friends that Luciana and her cousin have, making her immediately stand out. This interaction indicates to Rosaura that there might be some truth in what her mother was saying. This causes her to become extremely frustrated, resulting in her kicking the cousin in the shin. Rosaura is treated as an outsider by the cousin, giving her a first glimpse of her place in society where she is not on par with the aristocratic children. 

Senora Ines makes Rosaura feel special by giving her specific jobs, phrasing them as if it was an honor because of her skillfulness in household tasks. Rosaura, who is happy to help out, is unaware of the fact that this treatment is because Senora Ines views Rosaura as a worker, rather than a guest at the party. Despite her interaction with Luciana’s cousin, Rosaura still views herself as a guest and is excited for a goodie bag at the end of the party. After the bags are handed out to the kids, Senora Ines takes out her purse and hands Rosaura two bills. "‘You really and truly earned this,’ she said handing them over. ‘Thank you for all your help, my pet.’" At this point, Rosaura comes to the harsh realization that she is not a friend or guest at the party, as she had to earn her attendance. When Rosaura stiffens her arm in response, it represents her loss of innocence as she realizes the social divide that cannot allow the friendship that is so important to her.  Senora Ines refers to Rosaura as her “pet,” indicating her colonial-ideology, as she displays her superiority by referring to Rosaura as something she can own. This highlights that Rosaura is a colonial subject, and giving her the bills rather than a goodie bag further illustrates how she is different from the other kids and doesn’t belong in their class. This ideology is beneficial to the mother because it allows her to delegate extra housework under the pretense of a special friendship. 

The interactions between Senora Ines and Rosaura and her mother illustrate a post-colonial society, as there is an evident power complex that divides the working class from the upper class. Similar to the hegemonic power the West exerts over the many colonized nations, Senora Ines demonstrates her superiority by giving the young girl of lower-class chores to do. At the start of the story, postcolonial life was not clear to Rosaura; she innocently believed that everyone was equal. However, receiving the two bills was the turning point for Rosaura, as she comes to the true realization of her identity. Personally, I sympathize with Rosaura because as the reader, I am able to experience the breakdown of her innocence. The way the mother treats her at the party makes her feel superior to the other kids, but that sense of privilege comes crashing down when she is paid for the tasks that originally made her feel special. While there are no explicit colonizers in a post-colonial society, the story illustrates that the class divide gives some families more power than others.

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