In Seedfolks, how does the garden affect Gonzalo?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gonzalo works in the garden once he has come to America with his family, and it is representative of the responsibility and struggle he feels taking care of them. In spite of his youth, Gonzalo is the best English speaker among them, and therefore must act as translator and guide...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Gonzalo works in the garden once he has come to America with his family, and it is representative of the responsibility and struggle he feels taking care of them. In spite of his youth, Gonzalo is the best English speaker among them, and therefore must act as translator and guide in the city of Cleveland, and this is a big weight on his shoulders. Eventually, however, he grows to accept the nurturing leadership role and grows comfortable with it.

Additionally, the garden helps him grow closer and more respectful to his uncle, Tio Juan. Prior to working with him in the garden, Gonzalo is dismissive of Juan and knows little about him. But throughout their time together, Gonzalo realizes that Tio Juan is a very accomplished former farmer who knows a great deal about plants and gardening.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The garden, overall, is representative of growth, maturity, and development for the characters at large. However, for Gonzalo in particular, it represents responsibility as well. He has many things for which he must take care, being the most proficient in English of his entire family. He must translate and help lead his family in spite of being so young and inexperienced in the world. In the same way, his work in the garden is a responsibility, and for quite some time he feels like he is carrying a load on his shoulders that is not his to bear.

However, he eventually begins to grow in his understanding and care, and in particular he grows in terms of his attitude towards his uncle. As his uncle helps him in the garden, he realizes that the older man is very experienced, wise, and successful, even if it is not in ways that were initially evident to Gonzalo. By seeing his expertise in the garden, Gonzalo learns to respect his family more and grows into a better, more mature individual.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Gonzalo moves to America from Guatemala, he loses respect for the adults in his life. As the only person who understands English, he soon has to do everything from translating for his father whose English is worse than a kindergartener's to babysitting his uncle Tio Juan who does little more than wander around talking to himself.

Gonzalo's attitude towards them changes when he finds his uncle at the garden instructing the other gardeners on what to do. He realises that his uncle had been a success in the old country as a farmer and the one person in the complex who knows exactly how to cultivate and grow the plants. His eyes were no longer confused, but focused and full of life. As Gonzalo says at the end of the chapter "He's changed from a baby back into a man."

Once again, Gonzalo has a positive adult influence in his life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gonzalo has a lot of responsibility as a young man in Seedfolks.  His family emigrated from Guatemala, and Gonzalo is the only one who knows English. He has to translate for his entire family when his mother, his brothers, and his great uncle (Tio Juan) come to live with him and his father in Cleveland.  Gonzalo has to take care of Tio Juan a lot because Tio Juan is known to wander off and get lost.  Gonzalo is happy to help, but he doesn’t think that Tio Juan is very smart or has much to contribute.

When Tio Juan starts planting seeds in the garden, Gonzalo gets a whole new outlook on his uncle and his life.  He begins to see Tio Juan as competent and able to teach him things he knows nothing about like farming.  The planting of seeds by Tio Juan changes Gonzalo’s attitude about his life when he realizes that everyone is important and has something to contribute.  This is a common theme in the book, Seedfolks, as it explores the differences, similarities, and eventual acceptance of people who come from very diverse backgrounds in the community surrounding the Gibb St. garden.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team