What is the theme of the short story "La Puerta" by Jose Antonio Burciaga?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of “La Puerta” by Jose Antonio Burciaga is desperation for a better life. La puerta, the door, plays symbolically into the theme as it opens, closes, shelters, harbors, and finally, is ripped off its hinges in an effort to secure a better life. Desperation occurs each time the husband, Sinescio, comes through the door at the end of the workday to see his wife ironing laundry for "those who can afford to pay her." Faustina unlatches the door so he can enter into their small home with a leaky door and windows. Instead of talking, they bicker because in their world there is nothing to speak of except how to get ahead, how to provide a better life for their family. The husband purchases a lottery ticket, a dream, which angers his wife since she knows that winning is a pipe dream. However, the husband sees it as a chance for a better life; one ticket is all that is necessary if it is a winner.

The couple decides he should move to America with his brother to make their dream of a better life a reality—another long shot that he does not want to take. In spite of not wanting to leave his children, he readies himself for the move to a foreign land, telling himself and their friends that he will be back in a year, knowing that will not happen. Fate strikes on his last bus ride home from work as he overhears a conversation about a large unclaimed lottery prize. He thinks of his lottery ticket: but where is it? It is glued to the window on “la puerta” to keep out the rain. With time running out, he is frantic to get that ticket to the lottery office and ends up ripping the door from its hinges. Desperately, he runs to catch the last bus to town to claim his winnings while his wife stands soaked in the doorway. Will he make the trip downtown or to America? The author leaves us desperate to find out.

teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The theme of the short story "La Puerta" is poverty and what it inspires in those caught in its trap.

In the story, Sinesio must contemplate a life away from his wife and children in order to provide for his family. He knows that the journey north to America will be arduous and dangerous. However, he has little choice, and he ponders the letter his brother Aurelio has sent him. As his family's breadwinner, Sinesio is faced with two difficult choices. If he stays in his home country, his family will continue to live poverty-stricken lives. If he leaves, he will face various environmental and social challenges on his journey north. The unrelenting burden of poverty, however, forces Sinesio to contemplate making the journey, despite the inherent danger to his life. Poverty is often the motivating factor behind seemingly unexplained, desperate acts.

The text tells us that Faustina glued the lottery ticket to the door in an effort to keep the rain out. Although Sinesio is upset at his wife's actions, he has little time to indulge his anger. Because the ticket will solve their financial difficulties, Sinesio must immediately scrape the ticket off without tearing it to shreds. The task proves impossible, and Sinesio has little choice but to unhinge the door. Although the story does not tell us whether Sinesio is able to claim his prize, his actions reinforce the theme of the story: poverty often becomes the motivating force for acts of quiet desperation.

user7582925 | Student

Luck is for everyone!  Not just the wealthy or famous.

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La Puerta

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