Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Easy Time” has an ironic title. Tony is going through anything but an easy time. Jail will certainly not be an easy time for him. Try as he may to be otherwise, he is too thoughtful and too sensitive to do well in jail. He is suffering from the grief—with which he does not have many ways of coping—of losing his brother and his girlfriend. He has hurt his mother by stealing a car, and now she threatens him with rejection. His alcoholic father has, in Tony’s view, abandoned the family. Tony now faces an unsettlingly clear-cut choice: He can go the way of his uncle, father, and friends—to crime, drink, and being bad—or he can go the way of his brother, girlfriend, and mother—to getting along, finishing school, and being good. Now that Tony has taken another step toward being bad he is painfully confused about what next to do with his life.

Tony faces a problem that confronts all people as they grow up. Additionally, his problem is a symbol for the problem facing all young Latinos. He feels pride in his Colonia, and fondly recalls a past in which the urban sprawl that is emblematic of the mass Anglo culture had not yet reached the beautiful coastal area where he lives. Indications of Tony’s symbolic role include his reflections about the new houses, the trash on the land (“We kept it cleaner,” he thinks), and such sentences as the following: “Weak lights from the mansions on the peninsula twinkled as if they were stars that money could buy.” The culture that is encroaching on Tony’s rural peace celebrates money. The Colonia, for all its simplicity and beauty, does not have much money. Tony understands that he must either play the game (literally, in the case of the football team), go to school, and work, or assimilate in another way, with the cons and terminally unemployed of the Colonia. What he does not understand is his anger.