Heart of Aztlán

by Rudolfo Anaya
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How does Jason show his independence in Heart of Aztlán?

One subtle but sharp example of Jason’s independence comes one morning during school. Jason is thinking about his past life in Guadeloupe and his present life in Barleas. He’s analyzing the quick pace of Barleas, why his dad drinks, and why his brother is distancing himself from the family. Jason’s ability to separate himself from his circumstances and think critically and dispassionately provides evidence of his potential for independence.

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Throughout Rudolfo A. Anaya’s novel, Jason seems to struggle with his obligations to his rowdy friends and his own more thoughtful ways. When the latter comes up, I suppose those moments serve as examples of Jason’s potential independence. It's the narrator's way of letting it be known that Jason is aware that the kind of people he's around and the kinds of things he's doing aren't so great or beneficial for him.

One scene in which Jason seems to separate himself from his environment is before the "rumble" after school. Jason is sitting in class. He's thinking about his past life in Guadalupe and his present life in Barelas.

He remembers his friends in Guadalupe and running around and going to church. He then pivots to the present. He admits “he had worried that he was moving too fast.” He also meditates on his father’s drinking and his brother’s increased distance from the family. “The questions tumbled like driftwood in the flowing daydream,” writes Anaya.

The ability to question his circumstances and to think critically about his family indicate, to me, the existence of an independent mind. It shows Jason isn’t mindlessly going along with what other people are doing. He’s aware he could be doing other things. He has the intellect to make different choices.

Of course, just because Jason shows glimmers of independence, that doesn’t mean that Jason will always separate himself from his friend group. Right after his reverie, Jason follows everyone to the fight.

Like I said, through much of the novel, Jason seems to oscillate between moments of dependence and flickers of independence

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