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One theme from the novel is non- conformity vs. conformity. Similar to Shakespeare's tragedy, the protagonists are two individuals who seek to break free from the social conformity of the world around them. Romiette and Julio are fundamentally different than those around them. Julio feels stifled by Cincinnati, yearning for a life that more resembles his past. At the very least, he is different from everyone else around him. Even though he has made friends like Ben, he is different. He seeks to be different from the stratified world where people of the same ethnicity are poised against one another, as he experienced in Texas. Romiette is in a similar position. She struggles against groups like The Devildogs, who are convinced that Julio is an outsider that needs to be marginalized even further. As Malaka says, "the family" believes in the idea of "That Mexican ain't got a chance." Romiette has to fight through what social perception is in order to embrace her identity. She must wage the battle of non- conformity against deadly forces of conformist identity. In this, both protagonists fight to construct reality as it can or should be in the face of what is.
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