Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Baseball Glove” is not just a story about two brothers; it is also a story about two aspects of the Chicano experience. One involves first-and second-generation Mexican Americans; the other involves illegal immigrants from Mexico who come to the United States to work. The narrator and his brother, Nardo, are at the lower end of the American economic ladder, but at least they can get jobs as busboys, dishwashers, parking lot attendants, and short-order cooks. They dream of moving up someday among the rich at such places as Bonneville Lakes, and the narrator even dreams of success in that most American of all sports, baseball. The baseball glove embodies that dream; purchasing it represents for the narrator the beginning of his dreams of American success, which he intends to achieve by the usual American qualities of hard work, thrift, and rugged individualism.

Nardo, on the other hand, has been reared in the United States long enough to take it for granted. He casually loses job after job, loafs about the house, and sponges off his industrious family. Only as a last resort does Nardo undertake the most menial of jobs, picking chili peppers in the unbearably hot fields of the San Joaquin Valley—a job in which many Mexican Americans and illegal aliens are employed. The brothers discover in just a few hours what is a lifelong reality for many workers: The job is backbreaking, the wages are low, the conditions are terrible, and the company owns...

(The entire section is 505 words.)