Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In Alburquerque, Anaya uses the old name for the city, arbitrarily changed, according to tradition, by a nineteenth century English-speaking train stationmaster in a move that Anaya sees as indicative of cultural intolerance. A former Golden Gloves boxing champion and now a first-year student at the University of New Mexico, Abrán González, is inexplicably summoned to the deathbed of renowned local painter Cynthia Johnson. She tells him that she, a wealthy Anglo, is in fact his biological mother. She dies, however, before revealing the name of González’s father, only that he was Mexican. González must suddenly confront radical questions of his mixed identity—in the barrios, he had always been proud of his Mexican heritage. With the help of his mother’s nurse, the saintly Lucinda, he resolves to track down his father.
To help in his efforts, González agrees to return to the ring in a glitzy promotional fight designed to promote the mayoral campaign of the wealthy and influential Frank Dominic, who cagily promises to use his considerable influence to help González find his father. Dominic quickly emerges as a shady politico without any authentic cultural identity and loyal only to soulless materialism and ruthless self-promotion. The defining issue in the upcoming vote centers on delicate negotiations with the Pueblo Indians for their land (and specifically their access to water) as part of Dominic’s grandiose plans for urban...
(The entire section is 630 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Alburquerque Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Alburquerque is Anaya’s exploration of the ethnically and culturally diverse world of New Mexico in the 1990’s. The book focuses on the conflict between the heritage of the past and the challenges to it posed by economic growth unscrupulously promoted by developers and politicians. In its structure, the novel parallels a young man’s search for the identity of his father to the city’s search for a sense of community amid divisive political and ethnic tensions. Anaya’s spelling of the city’s name in the title reflects the city’s history; according to legend, a gringo stationmaster dropped the first “r” from the town’s name “in a move,” Anaya says, “that symbolized the emasculation of the Mexican way of life.”
Near death from cancer, Cynthia Johnson, a highly respected New Mexico painter, sends for Abrán González, a former Golden Gloves boxing champion who is now a college student, telling him that he is the son she gave up for adoption twenty-one years ago. Intensely proud of his Mexicanness and of the culture of the Barelas barrio where he was reared by his adoptive parents, Abrán is shocked to learn that he has an Anglo mother and naturally wants to know who his father is. By the time he arrives at the hospital, however, Cynthia is too weak to speak, and she dies without revealing the identity of her lover, a secret she confided to no one, not even her parents. Abrán turns for help and companionship to Lucinda...
(The entire section is 838 words.)