Into the Beautiful North

Cultural Clash

Urrea’s use of integration of Spanish and slang throughout this novel creates many cultural gaps for both the characters as well as the audience.   The use of Spanish within the dialogue creates great confusion and a paragraph’s meaning and importance are lost to me.   Having to make incessant trips to the computer to look up translations proved to be a quite cumbersome task.   This is due to my monolingual status.   My plight must be shared with a plethora of other monolingual readers.   This also occurs to the characters within the novel.   For instance the word ‘pancake’ has no direct translation into Spanish, and the word ‘guey’ has a different meaning within the language, which varies with location.   The use of this method of mixing languages is most effective to those who have a more in depth grasp of the language.   My situation is mirrored by that of Nayeli and her friends, just as she becomes more lost by the language surrounding her.   I find myself increasingly overwhelmed in the Spanish context; however, it does make their culture stand apart from ours.   After learning the translations, I juxtaposed the two languages and found that the Spanish version of a sentence sounds more exaggerated, and it tends to spice up the meaning and feelings within the context.   Although the difference in language might make the novel hard to follow at times, I believe Urrea affectively reached his goal in creating an accurate environment full of colorful language and vivid culture.