Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Although the first-person narrator tells his story years after it takes place—as his reference to the 1930’s indicates—he speaks from the point of view of a young child not fully aware of the implications of his own words. This fact makes it possible for the author to achieve a kind of objectivity. More important, he avoids the kind of sentimentality that one is tempted to use when writing about an impoverished child who dies before she has a real chance to live.

Central to the story is Parédes’s ironic vision. Political, economic, ethnic, and personal circumstances deprive Chonita of an opportunity for happiness and success. All of these things, connected with human biology and lack of medical knowledge, lead to her early death. The narrator sees these problems pursuing her even into heaven. The irony is compounded by the glorification in school of revolutionaries such as George Washington and Francis Marion the Swamp Fox along with the official condemnation of revolutionaries such as Emiliano Zapata. As a result, irony of circumstance pervades the story. Nonetheless, the narrator’s feelings of sympathy for Chonita provide some relief from the bleak irony that pervades the story.

The Hammon and the Beans Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

For Further Information

López Morín, José R. The Legacy of Américo Paredes. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2006. A fascinating look at the life and work of Mexican American folklorist Américo Paredes. Author López Morín does not focus on Paredes’ writing alone, but examines the role he plays in Chicano culture. López Morín looks at Paredes’ emphasis on folklore as performance and oral tradition, and how it helped shape his understanding of Mexican culture. Contains photographs, a thorough listing of Paredes’ works, and a bibliography of secondary sources.