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Almost a Woman
Masterpiece Theatre Almost a Woman
Teacher's Guide [imagemap with 8 links]

After Viewing

  • Have students review the predictions they made before they watched the film. Which ones were accurate? Which ones were not? What, if anything, was surprising about the film?

  • How did the film add to, change, or alter what students knew beforehand about Puerto Rican history, culture, language, etc.? If students researched an aspect of Puerto Rico earlier, have them describe how it was treated in the film. What techniques did the filmmakers use to convey the political and social issues of the time? Are these issues still relevant today? If so, how?

  • Have students share their observations about the language shifts in the film. What impact do these shifts have on the viewer? How would the viewer's experience of the film change if it were entirely in English or Spanish?

  • As the film opens, Negi is in her shed, crying as she looks around her front yard. Compare that with her arrival in Brooklyn and the next morning, when Negi looks at herself in the mirror as if completely changed. How do her surroundings affect Negi's sense of identity? How does she feel about herself in each place? Ask students to think of a time when they were in a different place -- staying with a relative, summer camp, a former neighborhood. Have them write a journal entry about how it felt to be in a new environment.

  • Have students look back at their definition of success. How would Esmeralda define success? What is her dream once she comes to Brooklyn? What is her friend Yolanda's dream? What happens to each girl's dream? By the end of the film, has Esmeralda achieved success? Why or why not? (You may want to refer back to the previous activity.)

  • Writers of the immigrant experience often vacillate between a sense of loss of culture and the excitement of new opportunities that the United States can offer. How does the film capture this dilemma? Ask students to choose one of the main characters in the film. How does this character feel about being in America? Does his or her experience resonate with the interviews students conducted before viewing the film? Have students write or perform a short monologue from their character's perspective on being an "American."

  • As a class, recall what the flashbacks portrayed and write the list on the board. Most of the flashbacks emphasize the relationship between Negi and her father back in Puerto Rico. What role does the father play in Esmeralda's life? Why do you think the filmmakers used flashbacks to express that relationship? What response does it elicit from the viewer?

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