The definition of family often tends to mean different things among varied groups of people. Violence, like family, also varies in definition and carries different cultural values and significance. Regardless of one’s meaning of family or violence, these two things in many ways influence and impact people’s lives differently. Hector Tobar’s novel, The Tattooed Soldier shows the impact of violence on people who each see family from a different standpoint. Furthermore, in the film Sin Nombre directed by Cary Fukunaga we see a different type of family heavily integrated with violence. Both Sin Nombre and The Tattooed Soldier demonstrate that the loss of family becomes the roots of all violence. In both works the main characters, Antonio and El Casper, lose their families through violence, which creates an internal struggle with guilt, anger, and ultimately causes the reciprocation of violence.
In The Tattooed Soldier, Antonio is flooded with guilt as he carries on after the loss of his wife, Elena, and son, Carlos. The guilt is easily seen as Antonio travels by bus to San Cristobal. The author writes, “He vomited out the window, wept into his hands, pounded a fist into his thigh. I am a coward. I am a coward. He had failed to summon the courage to jump from the bus in the square in San Cristobal and confront the man who had killed his wife and son“ (Tobar 19). Antonio is sickened with guilt as he is reminded that his family is gone and he did not stand up against the man who murdered his family. The sight of Longoria reminds Antonio that his family is gone and that he is still living, leading Antonio to feel much guilt. Alternately, El Casper is burdened with the same guilt that Antonio faces. In the film Sin Nombre, El Casper, an active gang member, is bombarded with guilt after killing his gang’s leader, Lil Mago, for attempting to rape Syra, an immigrant traveling to the United States. The amount of guilt El Casper faces crescendos when Syra chooses to abandon her own family, in favor of following El Casper to the United States (Sin Nombre dir Fukunago 2009). We can see that El Casper truly does feel guilty when he tries to makes an escape from Syra by getting off the train while Syra is asleep. El Casper knows that he has been “green lighted” and is considered a dead man and tries to explain this to Syra, giving her a way out (Sin Nombre dir Fukunago 2009). When Syra insist on following El Casper instead of her own family, El Casper feels guilty because he knows he is putting Syra in danger, as the gang will eventually find them and kill El Casper. Furthermore, battling guilt from the loss of their families, both Antonio and El Casper, become enraged with anger. In The Tattoo Soldier we see how Antonio becomes a violent and angry man. While living in Los Angeles, Antonio comes across seeing Longoria, the man who murdered his family, in the park. Immediately Antonio is transformed into an infuriated revenge-seeking man. The author writes, “After so many years, the soldier from San Cristobal, the killer of Elena and Carlos, was sitting right there in front of him playing chess, just a few feet away. “The son of a bitch is in Los Angeles” (Tobar 78). Throughout the novel we see that Antonio is constantly reminded of the loss of his family and how it brings anger into his life. The anger Antonio faces is caused by the idea that he has let down his own wife and child as he suffers to succeed in Los Angeles. Additionally, Antonio becomes angry as he comes to realize that Los Angels is not all what he had hope for. “When he first came to Los Angeles, Antonio thought of it as the place where he would redeem himself, undertake a new beginning. He remembered the feeling of tempered hope when he arrived at the airport” (Tabor 51). Antonio’s dreams of a new beginning are shot down when he becomes one of the many homeless people that populate Los Angeles. Likewise, El Casper, from the film Sin Nombre, also faces issues with...
Cited: Sin Nombre. Dir. Cary Fukunaga. Perf. Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer, Paulina Gaitan. Creando Films, 2009.
Tobar, Héctor. The Tattooed Soldier. Harrison, NY: Delphinium, 1998. Print.
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