Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The central theme of “Frazer Avenue” is cultural survival. From its opening passage, the narrator’s disdain for his former neighborhood and its inhabitants is evident. He and his family belong to the class of “good Mexicans” who have moved away. He now considers himself “different” from the others and admittedly avoids “anything that links me to these people and this place.”

In a new class in his predominantly middle-class neighborhood, he once dreaded hearing his name being read aloud during roll call because it exposed his heritage. Since then, evidently, he has made every effort to avoid being labeled a Mexican. Not surprisingly, he acknowledges that he does not know who he really is: “My cultural identity had been broken into little pieces.” He senses that he may not belong anywhere, that he fits into neither the middle-class neighborhood nor the barrio. He wishes the Latinos well in their political struggle, but he cannot identify with them.

The narrator’s dislike for his own people is evident. They are beings that he has “scraped off his skin.” Success in college gives him the luxury to feel superior to them. He even admits to being ashamed of his own parents, claiming that “the forefathers that mattered were from England.” At his grandmother’s birthday party, he mingles as little as possible with his relatives and detests “their gawky stares.”

Throughout the narrative, it is clear that...

(The entire section is 430 words.)