Latin Night at the Pawnshop

Essay by jgee331College, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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A Latin Christmas

In Martin Espada's "Latin Night at the Pawnshop," the poet examines the Latin culture during Christmas time in a young, but still growing community of Latino immigrants. The poem proposes that during some time in America, people of Latino descent could not enjoy themselves during the holidays as they would if they were in their own country. Therefore, the theme of the poem is heavily influenced by the demise of Latin culture in America. Espada augments his poem to make the theme clear by using the following elements of poetry: diction and tone, symbols, and imagery.

Diction and tone play a critical role in Espada's poem. In the first line, Espada uses what I think to be the most important word in the whole poem, "apparition", to bring about a vision he has of a salsa band through the window of a pawnshop. The word apparition means a ghostlike image.

By evaluating this word and its context, the poem itself has created a tone right away. We can say that the mood of this poem is very gloomy and depressing when all one can see is a ghost and nothing else. The poem then continues with descriptive words to describe other aspects. For instance, the word "gleaming" is introduced. The word gleaming means to shine brightly. By introducing this word, the poet draws emphasis on how important this salsa band is to him during Christmas. However, locked in the shop are "gleaming" instruments that can't play no more and Christmas to him is left in utter silence. Moreover, Espada mentions two distinct colors, a "golden trumpet" (line 4) and a "silver trombone" (line 5). Both silver and gold help represent the time of Christmas. Almost all Christmas trees use silver and gold ornaments as...