(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Lionel G. García’s Leaving Home offers an intimate view of one Latino family in the early 1940’s. The novel examines the pain of breaking family ties, identity crisis, and racism.

In Leaving Home, García is the narrator, telling the story almost entirely in a third-person omniscient voice. At one point in the novel, the author intrudes into the action using the first-person voice, and at another point, he addresses the audience directly in the second person.

As the novel opens, the aging Adolfo, a former major-league baseball pitcher who ruined his career with alcohol, is preparing to move to San Diego, away from the home of his cousin, Maria, in the Imperial Valley. He is a poor man who has little to live for but his memories. He hopes to move in with his former lover, Isabel, the mother of his son. Carmen, Maria’s daughter, goes with Adolfo, hoping to move in with an aunt in order to find a better job. Maria, determined to show her family that no one loves them as much as she does, has burned the letters that Adolfo and Carmen asked her to mail to announce their respective arrivals. Maria hopes that the two will have to move back in with her.

Turned away by her aunt, Carmen is allowed to stay with Isabel. Adolfo, however, is forced to return to Maria’s house. Upon his return, Adolfo discovers that he has been swindled out of his beer joint and that he has no prospects for work. Maria promises to help Adolfo find a job, but he is a proud man who considers himself to be a celebrity, and he refuses to work in the fields. Adolfo finally agrees to work as a gardener for a priest, but he soon finds the work demeaning and quits.

Adolfo then travels to Los Angeles, planning to stay with some old friends. On the trip, he meets Antonia, a con artist who easily persuades Adolfo to move in with her so she can...

(The entire section is 765 words.)