Who does Eddie compare to dinosaurs in Buried Onions? Why?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eddie compares himself and his contemporaries to dinosaurs. As poor Mexican youths living in the stifling confines of the central California city of Fresno, Eddie, Angel, Lupe, and others have grown up together and played in the two-foot pool at the local park, "all of (them) with spiky hair hardened by the chlorine in the water." Eddie recalls that they had all "crawled like mud-colored alligators in that shallow pool, crawled because (the water) wasn't deep enough to rise to (their) belly buttons." Eddie says,

"We evolved from the swish of an alligator crawl to standing up, like dinosaurs, our claws ready to strike. Dinosaurs, I thought. That's who we are. Too old to run with gangs and too messed up to get good jobs."

Eddie's metaphor begins with imagery and develops into a symbol with a deeper meaning. Children crawl, and when the boys were children they crawled like alligators in the shallow pool; the water, like their opportunities, was too shallow to allow them to stand. As they grew up, it came time for them to stand, and they did, looking like dinosaurs, whose striking claws were used to destroy each other in a cycle of gang warfare. The boys were more like dinosaurs than just in appearance, however. Dinosaurs are extinct, creatures who have no place in the present. Eddie and his friends are similarly out of place, doomed for extinction; they have seen the futility of gang life but have no prospects to make their lives any better (Chapter 1).