Rodriguez characterizes Mexico as a country with a culture of tragedy and America as a country with a culture of comedy. However, America is comedic in the Greek sense-in the sense that America is not comedic at all. Rodriguez feels that Mexico, in being the place of tragedy, is better off. America, on the other hand, has to face the burden of optimism, and the subsequent let-downs. Thus, in a sense, he characterizes them in ways that oppose what he truly thinks of them.
Mexico is described as tragic-those who are of Mexican descent are often very traditional in thought. Rodriguez's father held the traditional beliefs that old men are wise, that life is disheartening, and near one's death is the point where one must look back on their life. However, he also feels that Mexico is a happier place, with sweeter children and more lavish funerals. Perhaps he views Mexico as the tragic place because it represents a lost heritage to him. He, who in his middle age, finds himself agreeing with the Mexican ideals, nevertheless finds himself affected by living in America. Instead of being raised with the ideas of Mexican culture, he was raised with Protestant optimism characteristic of California. He was forced to abandon the way of life of his ancestors, even if only partially. America-more specifically, California, conquered the Mexican ways, and in so doing, lost the opportunity to reconcile the Catholic South and the Protestant North. Thus, Mexico emerged as the tragic hero and California as the laughing victor. California is comedic because it is a place where it is possible to start anew, to defy the traditional.
Rodriguez views California as a reconciliation between comedy and tragedy. It is both the place where many Mexicans immigrated to and the place where Americans move to escape the constraints of society. Mexicans hoped to experience the comedy of California-where it is possible to change your sex, divorce, and become famous. Even Rodriguez's parents moved...
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