Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

The title of Mighty Hard Road: The Story of Cesar Chavez, by James P. Terzian and Kathryn Cramer, is an apt one because it describes well the two goals of the book. The biography depicts the “mighty hard road” of César Chávez, who rose from poverty to become a highly respected leader and union organizer, and the book also focuses attention on the “mighty hard road” confronted by migrant farm workers in general in their struggle for decent working conditions and wages.

The book, which is fourteen chapters long, follows a chronological organization, beginning with Chávez at the age of ten. Like many families, the Chávez family lost a small dirt farm in Arizona during the Great Depression. The family then traveled to California in search of farm labor jobs. Young César soon learned that the life of a migrant farm laborer is a difficult one. After completing a week of backbreaking “stoop” labor, the Chávez family was swindled out of its wages. Using such examples from Chávez’s life, Mighty Hard Road highlights the treatment of migrant laborers. For example, growers expected Chávez and his siblings to work in the fields despite laws against child labor. The book also describes the shabby living facilities provided for workers and discusses the effects of these living conditions on the laborers’ self-esteem. Some of the twenty-two black-and-white photographs included in the book also depict these conditions.


(The entire section is 502 words.)