The short story “The Stolen Party” describes a young girl who is attending the birthday party of the daughter of her mother’s employer. To put it another way, she is the maid’s daughter. It is clear that her mother has some concerns about this social event, given their different social status. We can assume that this is why she coaches Rosaura to say that she is the daughter of the employee, if asked. Rosaura is beside herself with excitement to be invited to this party at the big house, a party which even includes a monkey.
At first, she resents her mother’s attitude towards the party. This is quickly forgotten because her mother makes sure that she had her best dress starched, and her hair done nicely. Rosaura has a great time at the party, but for the one girl with the bow who questions that Rosaura is really a friend of the birthday girl. Rosaura even gets to pass out cake, a position which she sees as one of authority. What a great time she has- until she is treated differently from the other children, as though she were attending as an employee herself. When Rosaura leaves, rather than being given a toy like the rest of the children, she received money.
Now it is painfully clear that she must reassess her role an position at the party. It is easy to identify with poor Rosaura. We all want to feel like we are included and belong when we are in a social situation. Rosaura is somewhat aware of the broader societal determination of social status, and that may be what makes being invited, and belonging at the party, so important to her. It was not, as might be expected, the children who reinforced her social standing as one that was different from the other children, but rather a fellow Hispanic person. The reinforcement of social status is a terrible lesson for Rosaura, and it deflates the joy she had in belonging.
Discussion Question: Do you think Heker intended to reinforce the idea that it is the people with membership in the same group who want social barriers maintained?
- Heker, Liliana. “The stolen party.” Other fires: Short fiction by Latin American women (1986): 151-158.