In Sonia Nazario's Enrique's Journey, what are the jobs Lourdes, Enrique's mother, finds in the U.S.?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Sonia Nazario's Enrique's Journey the first job Lourdes is able to find after illegally crossing the American border is a job as a live-in nanny for a couple in Beverly Hills. She watches over their 3-year-old daughter while the couple is at work. However, watching over someone else's daughter rather than her own becomes too distressing for her, and she quits the job after seven months, deciding to press on to Long Beach. In Long Beach, after accidentally conceiving a daughter with a boyfriend from Honduras, she is sometimes able to earn $1,000 to $1,200 a month cleaning offices and homes. She also takes on extra jobs, such as one at a candy factory. Later, Lourdes reports to Enrique that she has moved to North Carolina to escape all of the competition of other immigrants looking for work in California, along with the poor treatment of the employers. In North Carolina, she is able to find a job working on an assembly line, earning the highest salary she's earned so far at $9.05 per hour and $13.50 per hour for overtime; she also becomes a waitress. Despite the fact that she left Honduras hoping to be able to return after a year of earning a lot of money, and though she is now earning more than she has before, she still feels too guilty and unsuccessful to return to Honduras. She keeps picturing an expensive white house that's four blocks from her mother's own house because the house was purchased by Hondurans who left Honduras to work in Washington, D.C. and sent their mother money to build the house. For Lourdes, the house is a mark of the financial success she longs to achieve and still has not been able to, as we see in the passage:

How can she justify leaving her children if she returns empty-handed? Four blocks from her mothers place is a white house with purple trim. It takes up half a block behind black iron gates. The house belongs to a woman whose children went to Wasthington, D.C., and sent her the money to build it. Lourdes cannot afford such a house for her mother, much less herself. (Ch. 1, "Confusion")

After a while, she makes a new plan: If she can't return to Honduras to be with her children, she'll bring them to the U.S. However, the family falls into more hard times when Uncle Marco, whom Enrique is now living with, is murdered by robbers. Through her new jobs in North Carolina, Lourdes is able to save $700 to bring her children to America but now has to spend it all on Uncle Marco's funeral expenses. After that, Lourdes becomes settled in North Carolina, even moving in with a new boyfriend, and the story shifts to focusing on Enrique's struggles to survive in Honduras and his poor, dangerous, and illegal attempts to earn enough money to leave for America to join his mother.

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