Activity Overview

Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the poem, and support their choices with details from the text. While “The Latin Deli” is not a long poem, it has several interesting themes to explore and powerful motifs to describe.

Themes and Motifs to Examine and Explore

Hispanic Foods

In the course of the poem, Ortiz Cofer refers to many items of Latino origin including specialty foods, candies, and items that the store owner keeps. Each stanza includes examples like Bustelo Coffee, Jamón y Queso, Merengues, Plantanos, and dried cod fish. Each of these items is meant to represent a part of the culture that has remained visible, even though the various customer live in America.


All of the patrons at the deli retain a strong connection to their countries of origin, even though they may never return. They come to the deli to hear their native language, and to be with others who have come to the United States as immigrants or children of immigrants. The woman behind the counter of the deli is called the “Patroness of Exiles” (evoking the Statue of Liberty, sometimes called “Mother of Exiles”) and she provides a connection for customers to their past by “selling canned memories”, and trading with the “closed ports” of the places in their hearts. The poem focuses on the bittersweet feelings that accompany nostalgia.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies and explains one motif from the text.

  1. Type in the motif in the title box.
  2. Illustrate an example of the motif.
  3. In the description box, describe the importance of the motif.

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/1] Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/2] Determine two or more themes or central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account; provide an objective summary of the text
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/11-12/2] Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Theme, Symbol, or Motif
Create a storyboard that identifies a recurring theme, symbol, or motif in the story. Illustrate and write a short description that explains its significance.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Identification of Theme, Symbol, or Motif
The idea or object is correctly identified as an important theme, symbol, or motif in the story.
The idea or object is correctly identified as important, but is mislabeled as theme, symbol, or motif.
The idea or object is not significant to the story.
Example and Description
The example supports the identified theme, symbol, or motif. Description clearly says why example is significant.
Most examples fit the identified theme, symbol, or motif. Description lacks significance to story.
Example does not fit the identified theme, symbol, or motif. Descriptions is unclear.
Storyboard cell clearly shows connection with the theme, symbol, or motif and helps with understanding.
Storyboard cell shows the theme, symbol, or motif, but some part is difficult to understand.
Storyboard cell does not help in understanding the theme, symbol, or motif.

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The Latin Deli An Ars Poetica

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