In Barrio Boy, how does Ernesto Galarza develop a personal philosophy of virtues (when, where, and how)?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A personal philosophy of values can be defined as an individual making personal choices to define right and wrong behavior as opposed to external laws or culture determining right and wrong for the individual.

One example of Ernesto's development of a personal philosophy of virtues, as seen in Ernesto Galarza's autobiographical novel Barrio Boy, concerns the virtue and even necessity of hard work. We see Ernesto develop his philosophy of hard work all throughout the novel. Starting in his Mexican village called Jalco, tucked away in the mountains, Ernesto learns that to be a man is to work hard, night and day, in order to provide for your family. In his village, his labors were rewarded with provisions for the family; later, he learns that work can earn wages too. While in the village, his main chores are to care for, to provide for, his pets.

Even once his family moves to Sacramento to escape the violence of the Mexican Revolution, Ernesto continues to work hard for his family. While going to school, he purchases a used bike and applies for a job delivering papers for the Sacramento newspaper. After working the newspaper route, he acquires several other jobs, including farmhand, a pharmacy clerk, delivery boy, and even the decorator of Christmas cards. During summer vacations, he works in the Mexican immigrant labor camps and becomes so incensed by the treatment of the laborers that he complains to the state officials even though his complaints are disregarded. Regardless, both his dedication to hard work and fair treatment show that he has developed the personal belief that hard work is a virtue because it brings provisions and that people deserve the provisions that their labor should bring.

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Barrio Boy

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