What do you think the neighborhood Eddie lives in is like? Describe it as best you can from the book. Also, infer and imagine what it might look, smell, and sound like.
Fresno is shown to be a community where there is little in way of hope. In describing the neighborhood in which he lives, Eddie articulates a condition of life where challenges and obstacles present themselves at every step: "I returned to my apartment, which was in a part of Fresno where fences sagged and the paint blistered on houses. Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant unemployable people.” The faces of those who live in Eddie's neighborhood can be envisioned. The laundry and people in the neighborhood are "faded," alienated by the conditions that surround them. Eddie is constantly challenged with the external forces in the neighborhood that wish to bring him along on the path of futility: "I told myself to keep a steady weight on my shoulders and to stay out of trouble and run a straight line-to stay away from the police and the rumblings of vatos who have nothing to do.” Eddie describes his neighborhood as one where there is a propensity to descend a world of bad choices. It is so evident that external forces always weigh on him and, in response, he has to force himself to "run a straight line." Eddie's neighborhood is one where "your life could spill like soda right on the black asphalt, spill before you could touch your wound.” These descriptions help to convey the sense of hopelessness in Eddie's neighborhood and the challenges merely living presents.
In terms of sensory details, Eddie's description of the onion smell that is buried is one such element that defines the world in which he lives. For Eddie, this smell is pervasive, reflective of something more profound: "Babies in strollers pinched up their faces and wailed for no reason. Perhaps as practice for the coming years. I thought about the giant onion, that remarkable bulb of sadness." The "smell" of sadness is one such detail that is evident in Eddie's neighborhood. It is undeniable and inescapable. Eddie conveys what he sees in his neighborhood through how the sun would "gnaw" at his eyes, "with its bright hunger so that every other minute my pupils had to adjust themselves.” The searing heat of both the sun and the blight that hopelessness causes enhances the feel of such a setting. Such a physical description is also evident in how Eddie describes a hunger, both physical and what could be seen as emotional, that fills the environment, one where it was "crawling from one end of the street to the other." These physical descriptions help to illuminate how Eddie's neighborhood looks, feels, and smells. They are vivid descriptions from the book that Soto uses to make the reader immediately identify with Eddie's world and his need to escape it.
Make a connection between Eddie’s neighborhood or life and something/ some neighborhood you are familiar with. Does his life remind you of a book or movie you are familiar with? Or does it remind you of anything from your personal life or a friend’s life? Is his neighborhood similar or different from yours?