What is Eddie's theory of heaven?
Eddie is uncertain about the existence of heaven and contemplates that if it did exist in form of a dream, he would get an opportunity to meet his loved ones who died before him. However, he is uncertain of how he would handle the situation if that time came. In particular, he imagines initiating a conversation with his late best friend Juan if they meet in heaven.
Eddie also questions himself about God and His pattern of answering prayers. He wonders how it is possible that Juan lived his life by the book, only to die prematurely and tragically. The situation causes him to conclude that if hard work is what earns one salvation into heaven, then the majority of heaven’s population comprises of people from Fresno. His belief is because, just like his friend Juan, Eddie knows numerous other people, including his father, who, despite their hard work, suffer, then died. Eddie himself struggles to live a straightforward life, but all odds are against him. Unfortunately, he concludes that this is the fate of everyone who lives in Fresno with his analogy of the buried onions.
In chapter 1, Eddie remarks that he has thought about seeing his dead friend Juan in heaven "or some dream that was close to heaven." He later comments that "If hard work is the road to salvation, heaven must be packed with a lot of people from Fresno." Both citations suggest that Eddie's attitude toward heaven is one of uncertainty. If heaven is the promise of salvation following struggle, then Eddie cannot see redemption beyond the social problems that plague his community.
Eddie is primarily concerned not with the afterlife but rather the daily struggle to survive in his impoverished community. The novel shows that there are no easy paths to success for Eddie, who in the end cannot escape the buried onion beneath the city that represents the tragic condition of Fresno's inhabitants.