47 pages 1 hour read

Judith Ortiz Cofer

American History

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1993

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Use this activity to engage all types of learners, while requiring that they refer to and incorporate details from the text over the course of the activity.

“Eulogy for Elena’s Innocence”

Students will write a eulogy to honor the passing of Elena’s life from a hopeful and innocent child to a young adult who faces Racism and Ethnic Discrimination.

At the end of “American History,” Elena notes that she can’t feel the sadness for President Kennedy’s assassination like she thinks she should. Instead, she mourns for herself and the life she imagined with Eugene. Write the eulogy—a tribute often shared at a funeral—for Elena’s innocence. Consider Elena's hopes and dreams before her interaction with Eugene’s mother.

  • Brainstorm a list of characteristics of Elena’s life up to her interaction with Eugene’s mother.
  • Add to your brainstorm by listing events from the story that highlights each characteristic.
  • Share your list with a classmate to consider new ideas from their brainstorming.
  • Draft your eulogy. Consider including juxtaposition in your eulogy like Ortiz Cofer does in her story.
  • Write a paragraph that reflects on Elena’s change from the beginning to the end of the story.

Teaching Suggestion: This activity can help students think more deeply about Elena and the impact of Eugene’s mother on her.