In Chapter 1 of Buried Onions, why did Eddie compare himself to an air conditioner?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eddie does not really compare himself to an air conditioner in Chapter 1, although an air conditioner does play a part in the development of the narrative in the chapter. Eddie is canvassing the neighborhood looking for work when he comes across an old gentleman trying to move an air conditioner on a small dolly. The man is moving the air conditioner to the curb so that he can sell it at a yard sale. Eddie offers to help the man for a dollar, and, taking over the dolly, balances "the bulk of galvanized tin and Freon...and roll(s) it over the lawn to the curb."

Although Eddie does not overtly compare himself to an air conditioner, air conditioning is on his mind a lot in the sweltering heat of the central California summer, and the author may be using the different types of air conditioning available to make a statement about the conditions in which Eddie must live. In Eddie's neighborhood, the people have swamp coolers, which are not as efficient as actual air conditioners. The people who have air conditioners live in the more affluent part of town, which is predominantly white, in contrast to Eddie's neighborhood, which is largely Hispanic. The comparison between swamp coolers and air conditioners emphasize the disparity in wealth between the two areas of town. The Hispanics live in poverty, and can only afford the less effective swamp coolers, while the white population is wealthier, and can enjoy actual air conditioners (Chapter 1).