Dear Rafe consists of three parts. In the first section, Jehú Malacara, a well-known public figure and loan officer in Klail City, writes twenty-three letters to Rafe Buenrostro, his cousin, who is recovering from wounds received in the Korean War. Rafe is confined to the veteran’s hospital in William Barrett, Texas.
The second part of the book is composed of sketches in which twenty-three citizens of Klail City reflect upon Jehú, all from their unique perspectives. These two sections occupy forty-six and sixty-five pages, respectively. The third section, three pages long, consists of a penultimate note (designated as such) and a brief sketch, “Brass Tacks Are Best; They Last Longer.”
In his letters to Rafe, Jehú gossips about what is happening in Klail City, relating some of the intrigue associated with his boss, Noddy Perkins, who is manipulating the forthcoming elections. Through Jehú, Rafe (and readers) receive an inside view of how the monied class in Klail City exploits the Mexican American working class.
Jehú, still young enough to be principled, eventually oversteps the bounds that Noddy sets for him and is fired. Noddy relents and rehires Jehú, but this arrangement does not last long. Jehú’s conscience unmans him, and he resigns from a job with a future in order to attend college.
Jehú’s letters, although they lack the flair and the urgency of Pamela Andrews’s or Clarissa...
(The entire section is 450 words.)