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In this story, which is so much about manhood and the difference between being a man and a child, it is only fitting that the kind of tasks and duties that the mother gives her children reflect their status. For Pepe, as a young male who is nearing manhood, he is asked to travel by himself to buy important products for the family and entrusted with this responsibility. For his brothers and sisters on the other hand, they are given tasks that reflect their age and lack of maturity, such as gathering large seashells (abalones) and helping to prepare them for dinner:
She put the iron hooks into their hands and saw them down the steep trail to the reefs. She brought the smooth stone metate to the doorway and sat grinding her corn to flour and looking occasionally at the road over which Pepe had gone. The noonday came and then the afternoon, when the little ones beat the abalones on a rock to make them tender and Mama patted the tortillas to make them thin.
The younger brothers and sisters of Pepe are therefore kept close and given tasks that involve less responsibility than the mother entrusts Pepe with. This is something that reinforces the central theme of the story which is that of manhood and how we become a man and move from being given more childish tasks to more grown up tasks.
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