The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

by Francisco Jiménez

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Chapter 11 Summary

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Last Updated on September 6, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 438

In “To Have and to Hold,” the family moves to Orosi to pick grapes. They are looking for a better place to live than the old garage. As they drive to their new home, Francisco checks his penny collection and his blue notepad. He remembers how he got his 1910 Lincoln Head penny from Papa, who told him about the Mexican Revolution and about his grandmother’s support of it as well as about the lost treasures buried by the hacendados.

Francisco also recalls the origin of his 1865 Indian Head penny. His friend Carl gave it to him in fifth grade. Francisco had visited Carl’s house and been amazed by the size of the place. Carl even had his own room. Carl allowed Francisco to pick out an Indian Head penny for his own and wanted to visit Francisco’s house to see his penny collection. Francisco was embarrassed by where he lived and said he would bring his collection to school, but the next weekend, the family moved.

Now, heading to Orosi, Francisco looks at his notepad. He started writing English words in it in sixth grade and also includes grammar and math rules. As he works in the fields, he memorizes the contents of his notepad, which he carries with him everywhere.

The family moves into an old house in Orosi. The boys have a room for themselves in this place. After they settle in, Francisco looks at his pennies again. His little sister, Rorra, asks to have one, but he tells her that these are special.

Work the next day is hot, dirty, and difficult. When Francisco gets home, he asks his mother for the penny she got in change at the store. When he goes to put it in his collection, he notices that his 1910 and 1865 pennies are gone. Rorra has taken them and exchanged them for gum balls. Francisco is furious, but his mother tells him the story of the ant and the mouse to show him that his sister is more important than the pennies.

The next day after work, Papa, Roberto, and Francisco stop to pick up kerosene for the stove. Roberto thinks there is something wrong. The substance smells like gasoline rather than kerosene, but when Francisco asks Papa, the latter says that it is fine. Roberto fills the stove, but when Mama lights it, fire breaks out. The family escapes the house, and Papa rescues the savings box. But Francisco’s notepad and pennies are gone. Mama helps him to realize that he has already memorized everything in the notepad, so he has not really lost any of it.

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