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This book is written in a quick, quick witted, volatile changeable style. Rodriguez tries to expel of the tensions in his life and life in America. He parallels or relates the views of young and old, catholic and protestant, communalism and individualism, cynicism and optimism and the past and future in his own life. When Rodriguez goes to Mexico, he feels unwelcome. To me, he seems to feel that he is overeducated and superior to his peers in Mexico. A lot of Rodriguez’s opinions have come from his father’s view of the world.
His father viewed it as a sad place, whereas when Richard was young, he viewed it as a fiesta. However, through adulthood, Rodriguez’s opinions of the world began to parallel his father’s. He plays numerous variations on the contrasts he derives from an argument he once had with his father: “Life is harder then you think, boy. ” Rodriguez responds to his father, “You’re thinking of Mexico, Papa. You’ll see. ” Rodriguez is extremely cynical, he feels inclined to question everyone’s motives about every decision they make.
For example, on page 27, when talking about the Gay Freedom parade, Rodriguez states “they marched, east to west, following the mythic American path to optimism. ” Meaning they are following a path that isn’t anything in Rodriguez’s eyes. It is hopefulness that Rodriguez doesn’t see at all. Additionally, Rodriguez states, “I have never looked for utopia on a map. My compass takes its cardinal point from tragedy” (pg 29). This again proves that Rodriguez chooses to be negative and look at everything from a cynical, unfortunate standpoint.
The above being said, I also believe Rodriguez fails to pursue a consistent argument. He has so many different viewpoints and issues. While he does stick with the reoccurring themes in the novel such as AIDS, barbarism vs. civilization and religion, all of them are developed independently. He thanks the church for the schooling he received, yet throughout the years, not only has he lost the strength in his faith but he foresees immediate crisis for the church. He goes from being negative and hating life in America to stating, “I became Americanized, I ended up believing in choices as much as any of you do” (pg 172).
He feels now as if being Chicano it is holding him back even though he is trying to get to the level he should be at as an American. In doing further research, I have found that a lot of the readers of this book also feel the same way. One essay I read stated that Rodriguez is “a walking dichotomy. ” I completely agree with this because he is gay, a devoted Catholic, Mexican even though he barely speaks Spanish, American but still feels that he is different than the rest of America, Mexican-American who despises Chicanos, a gay man who sets himself apart from gay men, and an English scholar who leaves the academy.
Furthermore, Rodriguez is committed more to the truth when he discovers it through than he is committed to any political agenda. Although no matter what he says about feeling American or living in America, he is deeply involved in Mexican and catholic values and makes it evident how alien he feels when he travels through Mexico because he feels everyone is a bandit. Further stating, “if the United States stole California from the Mexicans, the Mexicans had stolen it from Spaniard, who had originally stolen it from the Indians.
” Overall, the book was a difficult read because of all the inconsistent arguments and topics Rodriguez approached. While he is an educated and knowledgeable writer, he approached everything with a negative view of life. I felt he was too straight-forward, too dark, and wide-ranging which in the end made a lot of topics confusing. However, I thought it was interesting to learn his views and I have grown from reading this dissertation.