In what ways does Gary Soto experience a coming of age in Living Up the Street?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Soto's experiences of coming of age is experienced on cultural, socio-economic, and psychological levels.  There does not seem to be one specific and identifiable moment in the essays where Soto is able to identify "this was a coming of age moment."  Rather, the collection of essays and the themes reflected in them represent a sum total of experiences that represent a "coming of age."  Living in the margins of Fresno society as a Latino youth in the late '50's and '60's reflected its own notion of coming of age in trying to understand the premise of the "hyphenated" American.  This coming of age moment manifests itself in Soto trying to grasp the idea between the professed promises colliding with the harsh realities of America.  Trying to understand who he is as a person of color yet an American represents a coming of age moment.  This is enhanced when he learns the disparity between challenging physical labor and poor compensation and treatment, representing another coming of age reality where an adolescent understands that the most taxing of work results in the smallest of wealth.  Within this are smaller "coming of age" moments, such as not succeeding in the sports domain, trying to understand the complexities of friendship, and reconciling loyalty to friends and trying to escape the condition of difficulty in which he is immersed.  Each experience illustrates maturation and growth, and a "coming of age" idea revealed.

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