Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Víctor Martínez tells his story by suggesting much but declaring little. Although Nardo seems a lazy slacker at first, a little thought suggests that he is the victim of a society that offers him only dead-end jobs while enticing him with visions of unattainable society girls, golf courses, and opulent parties. Although Nardo has dropped out of the American Dream, his brother still fosters notions of conventional success: Someday he will be much admired, the focus of everyone’s attention, a gifted baseball player. Although such things are possible in the United States, they are unlikely for Mexican American boys such as the narrator, who must rise above discrimination and his working-class background to attain anything at all. At the end of the story, he still retains his dreams, but the experience with the illegal workers has clearly unsettled him, perhaps even changed him.

Martínez tells his story with economical prose containing occasional figurative language, such as, “my weariness stretched as wide as the horizon,” and poetic descriptions. The narrator gives the reader an account from inside the Chicano experience, forcing one to see his people as he does—with sympathy, humor, and affection—and that his dreams are the same as those of any teenage American boy. In the case of Nardo and his brother, however, Martínez makes it abundantly clear that those dreams will be exceptionally hard to achieve.