In The Devil's Highway, what purpose does it serve by including the rap lyrics to "Stolen at Gunpoint"?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the chapter where the lyrics of this rap song are mentioned, entitled "Jesus walks among us," the author seeks to explore the reasons why young Mexican men become Coyotes, or illegal people smugglers who guide groups of Latinos through the desert as they enter the USA illegally. The song and its lyrics are mentioned to explore the background to the life of young men in Mexico who were influenced by such music. The key refrain in this song is "We gonna get it back," and this is repeated after the lyrics are presented in the text to explore the ways in which some Mexicans felt various locations were "Stolen at gunpoint" from them and how they desired to "get it back." Note how Urrea links this to the reaons why young men became Coyotes:

In this milieu, it was quite attractive to be a Coyote. You could tell yourself you were a kind of civil rights activist, a young Zapata liberator of the poor and the downtrodden. In short, a revolutionary. Coyote-as-Che. Jesus certainly fed himself these ideas, if his testimony is to be believed.

The lyrics of this song are therefore included in order to help explain and explore the reasons why young Mexican men were willing to engage in such a risky and dangerous, not to mention completely illegal activity. Urrea goes on to report how when Jesus made the decision to become a Coyote he went from being a nobody to being an "outlaw" with the "immense forces" of the US government after him. This points towards another reason for his involvement in people smuggling: it made him a somebody and it enabled him to gain fame and money for himself, which for a poor Mexican boy with few prospects in this world, was something that helps the reader to understand the decisions that he made in life.

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