Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Adolfo, a poverty-stricken former major-league baseball pitcher who ruins his career with alcohol. Adolfo realizes that he has made no plans for his future, so he decides to see if Isabel, the only woman he has truly loved, will let him move in with her. She refuses him. Adolfo’s insecurity is evident in his attempts to appear to be the winner in arguments with his cousin Maria and in his making himself the hero of every baseball story he tells. Adolfo is also insecure about his ability to perform sexually, a problem he never had in younger years. Adding to his insecurity is the cruelty of people telling him that his mouth resembles a rectum whenever he is not wearing his dentures. Although poverty prevents him from improving his appearance, Adolfo is concerned about how he looks. Adolfo has a good sense of humor and wants to be liked by everyone; open dislike crushes him. He loves telling baseball and war stories, but people at the boarding house where he lives start to avoid him so they will not have to hear another story. After his various love affairs fail to lead to true love, Adolfo’s search for stability leads him back to Maria’s house, where he is happy.


Maria, an emotional yet strong woman who is able to overcome adversity. Maria manages to overcome being jilted by the man she was in love with, the father of one of her children. She carries, delivers, and keeps her illegitimate daughter,...

(The entire section is 600 words.)

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Adolfo, the former baseball pitcher, is full of contradictions. At once comic and pathetic, he cannot see himself as others see him, as an old man who lives in the past and talks too much. He is absurdly fastidious, as can be seen when he is offended by the sound of his lover urinating, yet he wants to project a macho image. He sees himself as a ladies’ man, but at one point he is described as wearing a shrunken wool suit and canvas shoes with holes purposely cut in them to allow room for his corns. He frequently fails to wear his dentures. He is disgusted by ignorance but can barely read. Adolfo is a dreamer, and as such, he leaves the stability of Maria’s house in search of a better, more prosperous life of love and leisure. Having been born talented, he believes he deserves such a life. He also believes that Carmen deserves a better life and encourages her to stay with Isabel to gain opportunities. By the end of the novel, Adolfo recognizes himself as a failure and returns to Maria’s house. García uses interior monologues to show Adolfo’s development.

Maria is the hub of the family, trying to keep the family connected. She does not have strong matriarchal qualities, but she is a strong woman who survives many hardships, including the judgment of the Hispanic community against women such as herself who become pregnant out of wedlock. She wants desperately to keep her family together to keep from being alone. Through her conversations, she...

(The entire section is 514 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

García, Lionel. “Table Manners.” Texas Monthly 18 (October, 1990): 44-45, 49-50. Although this article does not directly relate to Leaving Home, its reminiscences describe real people who bear a strong resemblance to the characters in the novel. For example, the depiction of Tío Nano carrying two heavy suitcases is similar to a scene in which Adolfo carries suitcases for Antonia. The grandmother in the reminiscence, always willing to help the less fortunate, is very much like Maria.

García, Lionel. “The Wedding.” In Cuentos Chicanos: A Short Story Anthology, edited by Rudolfo A. Anaya and Antonio Marquez. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984. A short story by García. The section of this anthology describing the contributors provides valuable information on García’s life but contains no information on Leaving Home. The information is useful for some types of criticism.

“Leaving Home.” Booklist 81 (August, 1985): 1630. This favorable review gives a brief summary for a general audience. The review is helpful for understanding the plot and suggests that the work is important because it is about a group of people who need more attention from society.

Southwell, Sam. “Lionel García, American Novelist.” The Americas Review 22 (Fall/Winter, 1994): 110-113. Profiles García and details the themes and motifs in his novels that juxtapose myth and contemporary realism. Southwell asserts that García’s works are tributes to his ethnic heritage but are also laments for the death of the traditions and culture of his southwestern Texas homeland.

Taylor, Pat E. “Sons and Lovers.” Texas Observer, April 20, 1990, 16. Ellis’s review focuses on García’s novel Hardscrub, but there is some discussion of Leaving Home. The review suggests a common theme of the two novels of upward socioeconomic mobility.

Wilson, Patricia J. “An Interview with Lionel G. García.” Texas Library Journal 68 (Spring, 1992): 22-24. Provides insight into García’s writing techniques. The article contains little information on Leaving Home, but García discusses where he gets ideas for his characters.