Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Martínez has very likely been influenced by John Steinbeck and William Faulkner. Although his prose is often as simple as that of Steinbeck, it is sometimes as convoluted and wordy as that of Faulkner. The plot of “Faustino” is reminiscent of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (1937). In both works, a young, promiscuous, and foolhardy married woman causes havoc in a simple man’s life. Like Steinbeck and Faulkner, Martínez is given to philosophical and sociological reflections on the experiences of his inarticulate characters. Faustino has strong feelings but cannot verbalize them. As a spokesman for Chicanos, Martínez feels free to intrude into dramatic scenes to explain what is going on inside his viewpoint character. For example:Faustino had a sense, something as palpable as the callouses on his hands, that he belonged on the ranch, that he belonged to the ranch; that he must give of himself and of his labor to it; knowing all the while but never thinking that he did not own the land, that he would never own the land; that finally the land was neutral, that what happened on it was something else; that his devotion to it was one-directional.

Another striking feature of “Faustino” is that all the extensive dialogue between Faustino and his wife is in Spanish. This is not simple Spanish, such as the dialogue in some Ernest Hemingway short stories, which any intelligent non-Spanish-speaking reader can figure out through guesswork based on...

(The entire section is 481 words.)