Dear Rafe is based on Rolando Hinojosa’s vivid experiences in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas from 1929 to 1946 as well as on his knowledge of the Korean War. Dear Rafe is a fictionalized portrayal of the area’s white power brokers and their attempts to control the economy in the lower Rio Grande Valley.
Dear Rafe is divided into two parts, forming a total of forty-seven chapters and a conclusion. The first part consists of twenty-three chapters made up of Jehu Malacara’s letters to Rafe Buenrostro. The second part is made up of twenty-four chapters that deal mainly with speculation on Jehu Malacara’s mysterious departure from Klail City First National Bank in Belken County.
The book begins with Jehu’s letters to his cousin Rafe, who is recovering in Belken County War Memorial Veteran’s Hospital from wounds incurred during the Korean War. Both are now employed; Rafe, although convalescing, is an attorney and a lieutenant of detectives in the district attorney’s office in Belken County, while Jehu is the chief loan officer of the Klail City First National Bank. Jehu tells Rafe of the political activities going on in the valley. He focuses on the subtle games played by the area power brokers, mainly Noddy Perkins and Ira Escobar. Jehu is indirectly involved in various political power plays, for he not only knows who is manipulating whom but is also in charge of money being lent to selected businesses that are subsequently taken over by Klail City First National Bank. During these socioeconomic and political fracases, Jehu becomes involved with two women, the beautiful Becky, the Mexican American wife of Ira Escobar, and the younger Sammie Jo, the spoiled daughter of Noddy Perkins. Ira is so caught up in his quest to be county commissioner—giving his undivided attention and services to Noddy, who can and does make his ambitions a reality—that he is not aware of his wife’s love affair with Jehu. Sammie Jo, who has been married before and who is known to be promiscuous, is also having an affair with Jehu, perhaps...
(The entire section is 854 words.)