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

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beateach | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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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.

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