What are some quotes from Matt de la Pena’s Mexican WhiteBoy that reveal major character traits?

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Danny, the main character in Mexican WhiteBoy , is the offspring of a white mother and a Mexican father. Danny attends a private school near San Diego and—due to his slightly darker skin color—does not feel like he fits in with any of the students there. Danny's father is not...

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Danny, the main character in Mexican WhiteBoy, is the offspring of a white mother and a Mexican father. Danny attends a private school near San Diego and—due to his slightly darker skin color—does not feel like he fits in with any of the students there. Danny's father is not in his life, and Danny is haunted by his absence.

One summer, Danny spends some time with his father's family in National City. He hopes to form some sort of connection with them, but because he cannot speak Spanish, he feels he does not fit in there either. Danny loves baseball and is an extraordinarily talented baseball pitcher, but whenever he has to pitch in front of others, he is terror-stricken and the pitches go haywire:

Nothing hypes him up more than when people are watching him. Especially white people.

One of the central themes of the book is Danny's inability to feel at home in the world, especially when he's attending his private school near San Diego:

Nobody paid him any attention anyway because he was Mexican. He roamed the school halls with his head down like a ghost. Drifted in and out of classrooms without a peep. Nobody saw him as a real person.

Danny does not feel at home when he goes to visit his dad's family in National City, either:

Whenever Danny comes down her, to National City—where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live—he feels pale. A full shade lighter. Albino almost.

Another big theme in the book is Danny's sense of loss with respect to his father. His father left the family for reasons unknown when Danny was young, and Danny has never gotten over it. He feels that he might be part of the reason his father left. Only later does he find out that his dad is in prison for writing bad checks and that he was not abandoned.

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Specific quotes from Mexican Whiteboy that reveal Danny's character traits explore the difficulties in his life.  

Danny is destabilized with his father's absence. As a result, Danny is forced to stay with his mother. This exacerbates his tension about being biracial.  His emotional stress is conveyed through cutting, a self-harm practice: 

He digs into his wrist some more with his nails. Breaks previously broken skin and pulls away. A smear of blood he wipes away with his other hand, rubs off across his dark jeans. Back home his mom is always on him to stop digging, but that only makes him want to dig more.

Danny's cutting shows the confusion he experiences.  As the novel opens, he is not in a good or safe place.  His self-harm shows this.  The fact that he pierces his skin deeper after his mother tells him not to shows his angst.

Danny struggles to find contentment. However, his visit to Mexico represents a chance to connect with a part of his past.  Connecting with people of similar ethnicity helps him better understand this aspect of his identity.  At the same time, given how his father was Latino, Danny is able to feel closer to someone absent from his life.  Danny's movement towards self-discovery is an important moment:  "I came here because sometimes I feel like a fake Mexican. And I don't want to be a fake. I wanna be real."  Danny's desire to "be real" is an important part of his character development.  It shows how he seeks contentment and emotional balance in his life.

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