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is also your father.  In this case, each of the three No’s is part of a trinity of power, an idea that suits the Catholic context, too, where heavenly father and earthly father are often one concept, or one fiat.

But Judith Ortiz Cofer found sustenance in books, as many a fledgling writer does.  In “Not for Sale,” she bluntly admits, “Books kept me from going mad” (16).  Books were companions when both inside and outside her home she was confronted by the painful barrier biculturalism can sometimes be.  The Latin Deli contains several paeans to books.  Cofer elaborates in “Not for Sale”:

They allowed me to imagine my circumstances as romantic:  some days I was an

Indian princess living in a zenana, a house of women, keeping myself pure, being

trained for a brilliant future.  Other days I was a prisoner:  Papillon, preparing

myself for my great flight to freedom.  (16-17)

In her essay, “American History,” she admits that an indecorous fire escape was her favorite spot on which to sit and read her library books in the summer, when she was living in the hideous high-rise called El Building, in Paterson, New Jersey (8).  In this story about her rejection by a potential beau’s Southern mom because of her brown skin color and low social circumstances, Cofer records her loneliness well.  She describes how the fire escape was located over a house occupied by an old Jewish couple, and how, over the years, she “had become a part of their family, without their knowing it, of course” (8).  Her close attention to detail shines here, until the reader feels as if he or she, too, is sitting on that fire escape day after summer day, book in hand:

I had a view of their kitchen and their backyard, and though I could not hear

what they said, I knew when they were arguing, when one of them was sick,

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