Manny is hardworking. He says, "without work, I was empty as a Coke bottle." Having grown up in poverty, Manny knows that if he wants something, he will have to work hard to get it. Unlike his brother, he is not too proud or lazy to work hard at whatever jobs he can manage to secure.
Manny is also resilient. He looks at the way his father rants and rails at the difficulties and inequities in his life, and wonders why he gets "so tossed around by things." Manny knows life is hard, especially for a Mexican boy growing up in a poor family, but he tends to take things as they come, and, like his mother, he is able to take joy from the simple things that are beautiful in her life.
Manny is curious, and this attribute can sometimes be a curse. When Manny is babysitting his little sister, he becomes curious about his father's rifle, wondering why his father puts so much store in it. He imprudently brings it out, and begins working the bolt, trying to figure out why it seems to be jammed. The gun, which is loaded, suddenly goes off, and the bullet narrowly misses his sleeping sister Pedi.
Manny is most of all a sensitive character, one whom his father affectionately chides for being too trusting. Manny's father sometimes calls him el perico, referring to a parrot in a Mexican saying who "complains how hot it is in the shade, while all along he's sitting inside an oven." Manny explains,
"People usually say this when talking about ignorant people who don't know where they're at in the world. I didn't mind it so much, actually, because Dad didn't say it because he thought I wa dumb, but because I trusted everything too much, because I'd go right into the oven trusting people all the way - brains or no brains."