Through out the book Silent Dancing, Judith Cofer explains the topic of power through her own eyes as she witnesses it growing up. Many times Judith tries to show that by being a young Puerto Rican girl, she has to learn the place of power in many circumstances in her childhood. Judith see Puerto Rico as her home, the place where she belongs, and is always looking forward to returning there. “To all of us in the family it is known as la casa de Mama’. It is the place of our origin; the stage for our memories and dreams of the Island of life. ” (Page 23) Judith’s Mama’ symbolizes power to her and the family.
By showing that Puerto Rico is their place of origin, no matter where their lives may take them, it is always their base, a place to return to. Mama’ represents Judith’s Puerto Rican roots which has much of the control of her life, growing up. Even though they may have spent months in New Jersey, trying to fit in and act “American”, the whole family looked forward to summer and going back to the island. The more time that they spent in New Jersey only made them see how much control that Puerto Rico had on them. That even though they were far away from their place of origin they still acted and longed to be there.
As being so young Judith learns that adults have all the power, and children are powerless to them. “I instinctively understood then that language is the only weapon a child has against the absolute power of adults. I quickly built up my arsenal of words by becoming an insatiable reader of books. ” (Page 66) Here Cofer shows that language is a power and without language you are powerless. In order to survive she needs to learn to read to obtain the power. Which will help her not only against adults, but also against other children. In Judith’s youth she can not help but see that she is powerless to a lot of her surrounds.
Judith does not get to make many decisions, nor does her opinions matter that much to her parents, because she is so young. “A sailor went to sea, sea, sea, To see what he could see, see, see, But all that he could see, see, see, Was the bottom of the deep blue, Sea, sea, sea. ” (Page 67) When Judith is remembering this moment of her childhood, in the schoolyard, she is bring up how she is powerless. Judith sings the song about the sailor who is out at sea, she is reminded of her father. By her father always being gone for months at a time, Judith powerless do bring him home.
But her father is also powerless to come home and be with his family. Cofer discovers that not only in the relationship of her mother and father and herself, was she powerless, but also was that of her whole family. That everyone had a place, and knew their place. “Papa’ was the benevolent dictator of her body and her life who had to be banished from her bed so that Mama’ could better serve her family. ” (Page 26) Even her Mama’ and Papa’ had the same relationship that her father and mother had. However, her Mama’ stood up and fought back against the male dominate society that she lived in.
She proved to have control over Judith’s Papa’, by tricking him into thinking that they were going to have more children and needed more space, he built another room. The room he built was actually a room for his exile, after Mama’ pushed him out of their bedroom. Mama’ showed that even though men thought that they had the right in the relationship to have free reign over their women for their own satisfaction, that she could do something to be able to see her family grow. When in many cases the men had all the power, and the women had none, her Mama’ change that by taking the power back.