Manny has a sensitive, caring nature which allows him to perceive and meet the needs of others, even when those needs are not obvious. An example of this is when Lencho loses the boxing match against Boise. Lencho, who is a leader and always has an air of swagger and machismo, is devastated when he loses, and stands bewildered, looking "down at his gloves sort of funny, the way you look at a dog that has just dug up your garden, halfway angry at the dog and halfway sad about the garden." While others go through the motions of congratulating Lencho on a good fight, Manny sees that Lencho needs something other than that. Manny is the only one who cares enough to stay after everyone has gone, and, perceiving Lencho's need, shows his support by gently removing his gloves for him.
Manny is hardworking. He says, "I suppose years of not knowing what, besides work, was expected from a Mexican convinced me that I wouldn't pass from this earth without putting in a lot of days." As a Latino youth, Manny has had the ethic of hard work instilled in him, and as a child of poverty, he knows that if he wants something, he needs to work hard to get it. For this reason, when he wants a baseball mitt, he "hustle(s) fruit with his cousins," and, when that job falls through, goes to work picking chiles in the fields.
In his family, Manny tends to be more obedient and compliant than his older siblings, and as a result, his mother especially frequently turns to him for help. It is Manny who motivates Nardo into getting a job in the fields picking chiles, and it is also he who accompanies his mother when she has to fetch his father from the bar at Rico's. Many times, Manny ends up helping out because his older siblings take advantage of him, but nonetheless, he is, in the long run, helpful. Manny watches the baby for his sister Magda so she can go hang out with her boyfriend, and he is solicited by an older boy, Lencho, to help out as a "trainer" on the boxing team. Manny helps set up the facilities and gets the fighters ready; even though Lencho had originally expressed interest in him only because he hoped Manny could influence his older brother Nardo to join the team, Manny still turns out to be a great asset to the group.