How come you don’t feel that one year older when it’s your birthday? It just feels like a normal day, but you are a new age, older, and you’re supposed to feel it, but you don’t. You won’t start feeling older until your next birthday that comes around the next year, like Rachel from the story, “Eleven” written by Sandra Cisneros. Rachel turns eleven years old in the story but she still feels ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, and even one. This story “Eleven” is about becoming eleven years of age, it’s about the first steps toward eleven. At the end of the story is when she begins to become eleven (Shmoop Editorial Team). Every birthday we experience is one year that adds on to our lives that make us who we are. There will be those times you remember how you felt when you were younger, like that tantrum you threw when you were four years old, that feeling is hard to forget and you may even be eleven or eighteen and a moment will come in your life when you’re feeling four again and want to throw that tantrum.

Rachel, the main character from the story “Eleven” didn’t have such a happy birthday, she wished that she was one hundred and two instead of eleven, all because her teacher Mrs.Price forced her to wear an ugly sweater that was not hers. If she was one hundred and two years old she would have had wisdom and knowledge, she would have known what to tell her teacher and her classmates. In the story, an old red coat has been in the school closet for months, Mrs.Price got tired of it being in there and asks the classroom who it belongs to and of course it didn’t belong to anyone, especially Rachel, it was definitely not hers. In Rachel’s words, “stupid” Sylvia Saldivar calls it out saying it belongs to Rachel. I feel bad for Rachel because she knows it is not hers, but her teacher Mrs.Price takes Sylvia’s word for it and gives it to Rachel, and the worst part is Mrs.Price stops the class just to make her put the nasty germ-filled sweater on!At this moment Rachel has an uneasy feeling in her stomach, like a form of anxiety could make you feel panicky and it will make you feel like you’re sick (NHS). This feeling could happen when you can’t take control of the situation, when you know something is not right or not being able to control your emotions, your stomach starts twisting like a towel being wrung out. I feel like Rachel is being put on the spot and it is such a shame when you feel like nothing else could possibly go wrong or when you are forced to do something that you don’t want to do, and to top it all off, on your birthday. That’s when you start to feel three years old again, tears start to develop and it takes every muscle in your body to try and stop them from streaming down your face. You’re expecting your birthday to be a day full of happiness, excitement, and gifts but in reality it just feels like a normal day but normal days, bad things happen too and that’s what Rachel experienced. It’s almost as if her classmates were playing a joke on her or something to make a laugh but it was no joke, the sweater was there and it was unforgettable. Unforgettable like those cries when you were four, three, two, one, some feelings are so overwhelming you can’t hold in those cries, or those little animal noises that come when you’re trying to hold everything in.

Wanting a moment to be over so bad that sometimes you have to talk yourself through it and try to find the bright side of the situation. “Mama is making cake for me tonight, and when Papa comes home everybody will sing Happy birthday, happy birthday to you”, Rachel talked herself through that sick feeling, hoping it would all just go away but it didn’t the sweater was still on her desk pushed in the corner as far from her as possible. She started to wonder when it was going to be lunchtime she was thinking of ways to get rid of the sweater, throw it over the fence or bundle it up and toss it in an alley, as long as the sweater isn’t in her sight anymore. If it wasn’t for Sylvia Saldivar, Mrs.Price, and the nasty old sweater Rachel would probably be having a good day, I feel like Rachel is feeling, “why me?” “why did this have to happen to me on my birthday, it’s not even my sweater!” It may seem like such a small incident but it is pretty stressful for Rachel and I can understand why she feels the way she does about the sweater. It doesn’t belong to her, it’s her birthday, her teacher is forcing her to wear it even though it’s old and has all sorts of different germs on it, I wouldn’t want anything to do with the sweater either!

At the end of the story “stupid” Phyllis Lopez speaks up and remembers that the sweater is hers! Rachel hurries to give it back and the most annoying part is Mrs.Price is acting like nothing ever happened! Finally, the sweater situation is over but it affected Rachel’s not just regular day but her eleventh birthday in such a negative way, now Rachel looks at eleven as an unfavorable year. She didn’t get to enjoy her eleventh birthday, she now wishes she was a tiny-tiny balloon as far away in the sky, so tiny you would have to close your eyes to see it (S.Cisneros), as far away from eleven as she could be. Once Rachel is twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, or even twenty she is going to be able to look back to the day she turned eleven, she is going to remember the feelings the sweater gave her and maybe when she’s years older she will sometimes feel eleven again.


  • Shmoop Editorial Team. “Eleven What’s Up With the Title?” Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Nov. 2017.
  • “Why Do I Feel Anxious and Panicky? – Stress, Anxiety and Depression.” NHS Choices, NHS, 15 Apr. 2015,
  • Cisneros, Sandra. “Chapter 1.” Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories, Random House, 1992.