Identity in Pocho
A prominent theme in Pocho, by Jose Antonio Villarreal, is personal identity, or the understanding of oneself. The story takes place mostly in California, which was at the time a mixing pot of various cultures. At the time, racism was also prevalent, as well as hatred towards differing religions, and everyone stereotyped everyone else. The Rubio family in particular had a hard time with understanding their personal identities, as they dealt with the conflict caused by Juan’s beloved Mexican culture clashing with the new American culture that was being introduced to his family. Being Mexicans in America, the Rubio’s were also the target of racism and hatred because of their religion. Richard Rubio spends his life sorting through all these things and tries to find who he really is.
The story starts by introducing Juan Rubio, the man who sets the precedence for his family’s identity. Juan loves the Mexican culture, and as a soldier fighting for Mexico, he created many fond memories there and generally loves everything about Mexico (on page 15 he says “It is only that I remembered the old times, which are really not so old after all. Forgive me, old one, for I have loved you, and love you now.”). Well, he loves everything about it except the Spaniards of course (page 7, in regards to his murder: “That was a wrong thing you did today, Juan Manuel.” “He was a Spaniard,” Juan said.”). So he kills one as soon as he reaches the town of Juarez. Of course he can’t stay around after murdering a rich and influential Spanish man, so he leaves to live with his family in America. Juan is a simple character in terms of identity. He is a rough tough Mexican soldier who believes strongly in honor among men and cares nothing for the wellbeing of others, except his fellow war buddies (page 10, “Juan did not attempt to answer. He was suddenly filled with such hopelessness that he was inarticulate. His beloved general was to die – perhaps already he was dead!”)....
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