Buried Onions explores the determination of nineteen year old Eddie to defy his surroundings and make a better life for himself than that which otherwise awaits him - crime, violence and desperation. He is left in dire circumstances more than once and the temptation to accept his fate almost overwhelms him. He recognizes how, without good role-models, he and many others are susceptible to the distorted view of "the messed-up world from their backyard fences." He is always aware how "no matter how hard I tried to live a straight life, I could still mess up." He sees the "Anglos" but recognizes their superficial lifestyle and has no desire to be like them.
Eddie has lost his cousin, two of his uncles and his father to futile,violent acts and "all of them on their racks of black, black earth." The reader has no illusions about Eddie's struggle and it would be so easy for him to avenge their deaths, his cousin's at least, as his aunt even suggests, but Eddie knows that that will not secure his future and he spends much of his energy fighting any tendency to retaliate.