In two similarly heart wrenching tales of struggle and perseverance, the novel Rain of Gold and the film A Better Life put on display the stories of two families working hard to stay together and make their living. Themes such as family, hard work, and discrimination are common to both stories in which the ideas of love and hardship are closely examined. Through the exploration of these major ideas, two beautiful stories emerge to explain the power of family and devotion, the strain of challenges, and the pain and fear caused by prejudice and discrimination.
In both works an essential theme is that of family and the ability of love to bring people together. The film is a story of a father and his son who do not quite see eye to eye. Yet they are family and as their relationship is tested over and over again, their love for each other prevails. It is this love between father and son that keeps them together through the good and the bad. As Carlos is about to be deported, Luis comes to his senses and sees that his father is more important than his friends and what is considered socially acceptable. Family ties pull him away from what he knows to be with his father during this difficult time. Similarly, the families in Rain of Gold are kept together by their love for each other. Even though Dona Margarita’s sons have been taken from her, they eventually reunite with those still alive. Don Victor also experiences the force of family which brings him to leave the United States and return to Mexico for his family. Though he never realized that his family was endangered, his love for his family leads him to return for them. It is the pull of family that brings people together, away from their jobs and places they have grown to call home towards their true home, the people who make up their family.
Also largely emphasized is the idea of perseverance in the face of hardships. Though it is not legal, Carlos buys a truck and works to make a living for himself and his son. When the truck is stolen, Carlos and Luis chase the thief, well aware that the truck may be their only reliable source of income. They are not deterred by their suffering but strengthened by it, coming together in order to overcome the barricades that stand in their way. The families of Lupe and Juan also come together to overcome hardships, presenting a united front to the challenges that face them in the form of hunger and use the power of numbers to pull each other through tough times. Juan's family looks out for each other, loaning each other money and taking each other on as hired help when they find a successful venture. Lupe's family also ensures that they all have enough to live on, working together in the fields to bring in an income. Strength and a drive to overcome the forces working against them leads to the successful perseverance of these families though the odds are against them.
Discrimination, which has a constant presence throughout history, is shown to be an uphill battle fought by all characters in both stories. In A Better Life, Luis is nearly driven to join a gang because of stereotypes and discrimination. He sees school as an institution of little importance, believing that he is destined to pound the streets along with other Mexicans, conforming to the stereotype that Mexicans are nothing but trouble. Carlos is discriminated against as well, unable to find a decent job both because of his race and because he is an immigrant. The prejudice that the Mexicans are inferior shows up in Rain of Gold as well, Juan is kicked out of a restaurant because of his race. He is afraid to shop in normal stores for fear of being double crossed and cheated of his money. There are limited jobs open to those of Mexican descent due to their race and the idea that they are troublesome and lazy. Mexicans are seen as a stupid group of people who cannot achieve the same level of intelligence as others, and as such they are downtrodden in society weakening their moral and bringing down their views of themselves.
In A Better Life and Rain of Gold, two tales of discrimination and suffering are shown to bring out the best in people, pulling two families together. Though they are plagued by the terrors of starting a new life in a foreign country, their love for each other and strong family ties hold them together, allowing them to overcome hardships, becoming stronger as they are challenged again and again rather than falling to pieces. By writing the experiences of these individuals, both author and director have brought to life examples of the power held by those who have the ability to love, for with love and family it is possible to overcome all hardships and prejudices.