Historical Context

In ‘‘Don Arturo: A Story of Migration,’’ an essay which originally appeared in Cruz's By Lingual Wholes, Cruz tells the story of Don Arturo, the character who relates the anecdote of the street musician in "Business." A musician himself and somewhat of a Don Juan, Arturo migrated to New York City in 1926 from Cuba. Cruz relates how Arturo seduced the wife of the minister who led the Christian band for which Arturo played guitar. Arturo traveled to the United States with the minister and band and played with them until the Great Depression hit, at which point Cruz writes that Arturo quit the band and became a street musician. In this essay it is clear that the street vendor and musician Don Arturo describes in "Business" is, in fact, himself. Cruz has taken language directly from the poem and used it in his story of Arturo. Compare the following paragraph to the poem:

When the market crashed he [Arturo] became a street musician, taking a position outside Macy's and sometimes Gimbel's. He played many instruments at the same time, even putting a tambourine on his feet. He sang popular Latin-American songs and told jokes. Sometimes he got arrested and he put puppet shows on in the courtroom. The court clerks rolled on the floor.

When Cruz wrote this piece in 1981 he described Arturo as a 78-year-old bon vivant with few regrets in life. Arturo was still in New York City and full of the mischief he showed as the ‘‘Monkey man’’ in "Business." The...

(The entire section is 622 words.)