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My Name

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I’m reading Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street with my seventh graders.  The book is a series of vignettes, all showing snapshots of the life of the main character, Esperanza.  As we read, I’m having the students write their own vignettes, and as they write them, I’m writing them too, to give them examples.

In this assignment, students had to imitate the vignette called “My Name” in which Esperanza talks about the meaning of her name and how she feels about her name.  Here is my vignette.

My first name means pure.  When I was younger, I felt it meant purely boring.  It was a name for a person a generation older, though I wasn’t named for any beloved family member.  I didn’t know anyone else with my name, but instead of making me feel special, as maybe it should have, that fact made me feel a little weird, a little isolated, a little dull.  My name wasn’t unusual because it was so interesting or different, but because it was so unexciting.  I tried spelling it differently to add pizzazz, but all that got me was a circle around my name from my teacher’s poisonous purple pen.  I considered going by my middle name, which I felt was much more exotic, but I was afraid I’d never remember.

Now, I like my name.  I hold onto the meaning and try to live up to the adjective.  I use my name as a goal for myself: to be pure in my faith, pure in my motives, and pure in my relationships with others.  I used to want a different name, but now I feel my name fits me.


About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

2 responses »

  1. I’d love to see how your students responded. Are any willing to let you put their work up?

  2. I like this… my name is one of those ambiguous ones, and I could have hated it, but the man I was named for inspired admiration and respect, so I have never resented it. I only wish I could live up to his standard.


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