Style and Technique

. . . and the earth did not part (1971), the volume in which this story appears, was one of several works published in the 1970’s that brought to the tradition of Chicano fiction a new degree of artistic quality.

Chicano fiction, that literature by and about Americans of Mexican descent, began to make great strides in the 1960’s. With the founding in 1969 of Quinto Sol, a publishing house dedicated to Mexican American, or Chicano, literature, and the subsequent institution of the Quinto Sol Prize, Chicano fiction of high artistic quality received a needed boost. Rivera’s . . . and the earth did not part was one of the first works to receive this prize.

In terms of structure and narrative technique . . . and the earth did not part is highly unusual. As noted above, it is a cycle of linked stories: twelve vignettes, formed by a very brief opening “chapter” (about a half-page long) and a longer concluding chapter. The opening chapter presents the problem of the young boy’s confusion and his need to resolve the problem through recalling the events of the past year. In the last chapter, he recapitulates the contents of the twelve vignettes and forms his conclusions. Each of the vignettes (and the concluding chapter as well) is preceded by a self-contained, brief italicized passage, only a few lines long, which plays against the piece that follows.

The author employs a wide variety of narrative...

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Casañeda-Shular, Antonia, Tomás Ybarro-Frauto, and Joseph Sommers, eds. Chicano Literature: Text and Context. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972. A helpful resource for information on Mexican American intellectual life, history, criticism, and literature and on Rivera’s place in the Chicano literary canon.

Grajeda, Ralph F. “Tomás Rivera’s Appropriation of the Chicano Past.” In Modern Chicano Writers: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Joseph Sommers and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1979. Grajeda does an excellent job of analyzing and putting Rivera’s novel into historical context.

Kanellos, Nicolas, ed. “Thomás Rivera.” In The Hispanic Literary Companion. Detroit: Visible Ink, 1996. Includes criticism of Rivera’s novel, a biography, and his short story “Zoo Island.”

Olivares, Julian, ed. International Studies of Tomás Rivera. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press, 1986.

Olivares, Julian, ed. Tomás Rivera: The Complete Works. Houston, Tex.: Arte Público Press, 1991.

Rivera, Tomás. The Man and His Work. Edited by Vernon E. Lattin, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gary D. Keller. Tempe, Ariz.: Bilingual Review Press, 1988.

Tatum, Charles M. “Contemporary Chicano Novel.” In Chicano Literature. Boston: Twayne, 1982. Beginning with early Chicano novels such as José Antonio Villareal’s Pocho (1959), this chapter places Rivera’s novel at the forefront of modern Chicano literature.