Who are the main characters in Barrio Boy by Ernesto Galarza?

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nanmarc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here is a list of key characters in Barrio Boy and their roles:

Ernesto Galarza is the book's protagonist, an intelligent, resilient, hard-working young man uprooted from a small village in Mexico by the Revolution. His family moves among various locations in search of a better life before ending up in Sacramento. Ernesto has a strong work ethic, demonstrated through multiple menial jobs worked throughout childhood, and has a strong sense of justice, demonstrated through the complaint he files regarding substandard labor conditions.

Doña Henriqueta is Ernesto's mother, a seamstress who tutors Ernesto at home in reading and writing, and who instills him with her own strong sense of responsibility in caring for others. She dies of Spanish influenza after settling down with a new husband in California.

José Galarza is Ernesto's uncle and Henriqueta's brother, a hard worker with an irreverent sense of humor who is loyal to family and cares for Ernesto after Henriqueta's death.

Gustavo Galarza is Ernesto's uncle and Henriqueta's brother, a hard worker who is supportive of family and ultimately dies of Spanish influenza in California like his sister.

poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ernesto Galarza's Barrio Boy follows the story of a Mexican boy who is moved from his home country to the barrio of Sacramento, California. The main character is Ernesto Galarza himself, who lives with his mother, Doña Henriquetta. Henriquetta is divorced from Ernesto's father and receives help in raising Ernesto from Uncle Gustavo, Aunt Esther, and Uncle José.

Henriquetta is very concerned with the safety of her son, and as soldiers with guns start to arrive in their village, signaling stirrings of the Mexican Revolution, she decides to move Ernesto from one place to the next: Tepic, Acaponeta, Mazatlán, and then to Sacramento, where they are reunited with José and Gustavo. 

Other significant characters include Miss Ryan, the first-grade teacher of Ernesto, who works hard to teach him English, and Mrs. Dodson, the owner of the boardinghouse that houses Ernesto and his family.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The plot revolves around the main character, Ernesto Galarza, who is raised by his mother, Dona Henriqueta. Dona was divorced by Ernesto's father when Ernesto was just an infant. This is a story of struggle and coming to grips with harsh reality.

Follow the enotes link for all major characters!

sameul123 | Student

Ernie Galarza

This character shares the story of growing up and learning about life. This character moves from a small town in Mexico to California.


This character takes on the role of the man in the household, taking the bulk of the workload onto his own shoulders. It is this character who travels the farthest distances for work, and this character who makes detailed travel arrangements for the rest of the family.


This character uses sewing skills to build up a business, thus contributing to the money earned for the family.


This character expresses a desire on more than one occasion to run away and join a guerilla group to fight in the war. This character's fiery and opinionated personality mellows in time

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Barrio Boy

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