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What happened in chapter 2 of the color of my words?

Chapter 2 of The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph establishes the setting and central characters of the novel. The chapter is narrated by Ana Rosa, a young girl living in the Dominican Republic with her family. Key events include Ana Rosa describing her family members, life in her village, and the differences between her life and the lives of those in the city. Ana Rosa struggles with feeling embarrassed by her poverty and dreams of becoming a writer.

Summary of Main Events

– Ana Rosa introduces her family members: Mami, Papi, her brother Guillermo, and her sister Isabel. She describes their personalities and habits.

– She provides details about her village, including the gravel road, the latrine out back, and their home made of zinc sheets. She contrasts this with the brick houses and indoor plumbing in the city.

– Ana Rosa attends school in the morning and then sells oranges and cashews at a stand in the afternoon to help earn money for her family.

– She hides when the fancy cars drive through the village on the way to the beaches because she feels ashamed.

– Ana Rosa dreams of becoming a writer but feels it’s impossible given her circumstances. She starts writing poems and stories anyway.

– She describes finding a special mahogany writing desk that she cleans up and claims as her own.

– The chapter ends with Ana Rosa feeling hope about her future as a writer.

Key Characters Introduced

– Ana Rosa – the young narrator of the story. She is 12 years old and dreams of being a writer.

– Mami (Amantina) – Ana Rosa’s mother. She cares deeply for her family.

– Papi (Pedro) – Ana Rosa’s father. He harvests coffee to provide for the family.

– Guillermo – Ana Rosa’s older brother. He is serious and studious.

– Isabel – Ana Rosa’s younger sister. She is playful and mischievous.

Summary of Important Locations

– Ana Rosa’s village – a poor rural village in the Dominican Republic where Ana Rosa lives with her family. The homes are made of tin and zinc.

– Ana Rosa’s home – a small three room house in the village, furnished sparsely. The kitchen has a dirt floor.

– Ana Rosa’s school – a small school in the village where Ana Rosa goes in the mornings.

– The mahogany desk – a beautiful antique desk Ana Rosa finds and claims as her writing desk.

– The city – an unnamed city close to Ana Rosa’s village where richer people live in brick houses.

Themes and Analysis

– Poverty – Ana Rosa’s poverty is a major theme, shown through details like their latrine, the materials their house is made of, and her orange selling job.

– Dreams and hope – Despite her circumstances, Ana Rosa dreams of being a writer which gives her hope for the future. The mahogany desk represents her dreams.

– Home and family – The home and Ana Rosa’s relationships with her family members are lovingly described, showing their importance.

– Rural life – Details about daily rural life are used to establish the setting and Ana Rosa’s experiences living in a small village.

– Inequality and class – Ana Rosa’s shame about her poverty when the fancy cars drive through her village highlights inequality and class differences.

Significance of Events to Story and Characters

– The descriptions of Ana Rosa’s home, village, and family establish her impoverished environment and relationships that shape her life experiences.

– Ana Rosa’s dream of becoming a writer and claiming the mahogany desk represent her hope and ambition despite her surroundings. This dream will drive her self-education and development.

– Hiding from the cars passing through the village shows Ana Rosa’s internal struggle with shame and inequality. This will further motivate her writing goals.

– The contrast made between the village and city highlight the stark inequality that exists in the country. This inequality permeates many aspects of life.

– Ana Rosa’s devotion to her education reveals her determination to learn and become a writer even given her daily workload and responsibilities.

Explanation of Important Quotes

Quote Explanation
“I am no cinder girl who might get a chance to go to the ball. I live in a small wooden house with a tin roof on the edge of the ravine.” This quote shows Ana Rosa is aware her poverty means she will likely not get opportunities others have. She won’t miraculously go to a ball like Cinderella.
“The mahogany desk had carved roses on the legs that made me think of English gardens, even though I’ve never been out of the Dominican Republic.” The desk represents beauty and possibilities beyond her circumstances. The carved roses inspire imaginings of England though she’s never left her country.
“As I traced my fingertips over the smooth surface of the desk, I knew it would be mine, only mine, and holding tight my secrets and stories.” Claiming ownership of the desk shows Ana Rosa’s determination to define her future and develop her writing, even without others believing in her.


In chapter 2 of The Color of My Words, Lynn Joseph uses vivid details to establish the setting of Ana Rosa’s impoverished village and introduce the central characters of her loving family. Thematically, the chapter explores issues of poverty, inequality, hopes and dreams, and the contrast between rural and urban life in the Dominican Republic. Ana Rosa’s ambition to become a writer despite her circumstances is established as the driving force in her coming of age journey. Key events from the chapter propel the larger narrative forward in the novel.