47 pages 1 hour read

Judith Ortiz Cofer

American History

Fiction | Short Story | Adult | Published in 1993

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Reading Questions & Paired Texts

Reading Check and Short Answer Questions on key plot points are designed for guided reading assignments, in-class review, formative assessment, quizzes, and more.

Reading Check

1. What is the name of the building in which Elena and her family live?

2. Who lived in the house before Eugene and his family moved in?

3. What is Elena’s nickname at school?

4. Who tells the students about the assassination of President Kennedy?

5. Where does Elena’s mother want to go upon hearing the news of the assassination?

Short Answer

Answer each question in at least 1 complete sentence. Incorporate details from the text to support your response.

1. What has been Elena’s experience with Puerto Rico?

2. Why did Elena’s family move to Paterson, New Jersey?

3. Why does Elena cry at the end of the story?

4. How does Elena describe the city after the assassination of President Kennedy?

Paired Resource

El Olvido” by Judith Ortiz Cofer

  • This poem by Judith Ortiz Cofer examines moving to a new culture and the challenge of maintaining a connection to the home culture.
  • How does “El Olvido” provide context for “American History”? What connections exist between the two works and the theme of Migration and Displacement?

Recommended Next Reads 

Two Kinds” by Amy Tan

  • This short story tells about the tension created by an immigrant mother’s expectations for her daughter.