A Character Study in Astrology

A study tactic I often used back in undergrad was looking up various authors I was studying in class and finding their birthday, so I could discover their astrological sign. I know a lot of people (Boomers, ahem) think this is ridiculous and counterproductive, but it really helped me round out the images I was forming of the authors I was reading. When I think of Frank O’ Hara as an Aries, I read his work in a more pragmatic tone, one with more enthusiasm, confidence, and theatricality. Felicia Hemans is a Libra, like I am, and I wake up a little more thrilled everyday knowing that, too. It allows me to compare authors I have never met to people in my life now; a Leo friend of mine bears a striking resemblance to Valentine de Saint-Pointe, an Aquarius, who shares a similar creative energy and ego. With this in mind as I read Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, I wanted to draw conclusions about the main characters astrological signs in order to better qualify their traits. In doing so, I gained a new form of insight, a way of examining these characters and their relationships to one another more closely.

I’ll start with Xiomara Batista, or X as she is often known. X and her twin, Xavier (aka Twin), share a birthday, which means they would also share the same astrological sign. Throughout the book, though, X makes a point to describe how different she is from her brother in both personality and treatment. For this reason, I want to focus on the combinations of traits they share, but those that manifest themselves differently in X and Twin. Both Twin and X are introverts. While Twin is non-confrontational and prefers existing below peoples’ radar, X is confrontational only when her hand is seemingly forced. As a young woman quickly becoming just that (a woman), it is nearly impossible for her to go unnoticed, particularly by men. In this regard, Twin, being a closeted gay teen, has his own gender-influenced reasons for being introverted. His sexuality would not be accepted at home, nor by many of the people in his school and community. X is also a fiercely creative person, who feels compelled to write often and passionately. Her art is her voice, and readers are made privy to this because the novel is told completely in her own written verses. Twin and X, though struggling with different external forces, are exceedingly empathetic towards one another. Despite the different treatment they receive from their Mami, they never overlook the pain of the other, especially when it is unfair. For all of these reasons, I narrowed these characters into the category of water signs: deeply emotionally articulate, empathetic, and sensitive. From their, I got more specific. Xiomara is, despite her own emotional health, very family-oriented. Although her relationship with her parents and her mother in particular is fraught, she still wants to please them and do right by them. This unreciprocated feeling causes so many of her personal struggles, and is the reason I deem her (and Twin) Pisces.

Aman is Xiomara’s first major crush and first real relationship. He is charming, cool, collected, and despite his utter teenage-boyness, he is kind and thoughtful in how he engages X. He doesn’t push her further than she is ready, and he shows a genuine interest in listening to her poetry (her VOICE) as they grow closer. His admiration for her work and his warm qualities that compliment X so well led me to one conclusion: Aman is a Cancer.

Mami is, arguably, the most unlikeable character in this book. Though a number of my own incompatible signs come to mind when I meet a character I don’t like, I wanted to find a way to understand her character more before passing judgement. Mrs. Batista is an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. She married a man who was not only unfaithful, but had little interest in their marriage before (and after, for that matter) having kids. She is a very religious, Catholic woman who largely resented having a lack of choice in her own life. She is a stubborn perfectionist with a pin-hole view of what it means to be a woman. More than anything, she craves the effort of people in her life to conform to a mold she establishes for them. Because she is so hard-working, she holds those around her to the same standards she holds herself instead of allowing them to make a path of their own. For this reason, I am sorry to say, Mami is a virgo.

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