Summary

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 463

This short story begins with the pregnant narrator bemoaning the loss of her lover, Chaq Uxmal Paloquin, who is supposedly descended from an ancient line of Mayan kings. Accordingly, the narrator's grandmother has sent her to live in Mexico to await the birth of her baby.

As the story continues,...

(The entire section contains 1051 words.)

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This short story begins with the pregnant narrator bemoaning the loss of her lover, Chaq Uxmal Paloquin, who is supposedly descended from an ancient line of Mayan kings. Accordingly, the narrator's grandmother has sent her to live in Mexico to await the birth of her baby.

As the story continues, the narrator says that her own mother also made poor decisions and inevitably ended up walking the "crooked walk." Meanwhile, the narrator's Abuelita blames Uncle Lalo for her granddaughter's downfall. For his part, Uncle Lalo refuses to take responsibility for his niece's predicament.

The narrator maintains, however, that she isn't a "bad" girl. After all, she doesn't sell her body like the prostitutes on the streets. She relates that she always wanted her first time with a man to be special, and she believes that she experienced that with Chaq, whom she nicknames Boy Baby. To her, Chaq is a combination of boy, baby, and man.

The narrator maintains that it was Chaq who pursued her. First, he made a few stops at her pushcart in front of a grocery store, where she sold produce. He purchased items from her and sometimes told her to keep the change. Her feelings for him intensified after he brought her Kool-Aid in a plastic cup.

What intrigued the narrator about Boy Baby was his mystery. He never revealed his past and sometimes spoke to her in a strange language she couldn't understand. According to the narrator, her lover lived behind an auto repair shop in a dingy room.

It was in this room that he showed her his twenty-four guns and made love to her. The narrator relates that she was proud to lose her virginity to such a lover. To hide her actions from her grandmother, she later made up a story about her cart being stolen.

Later, however, a neighbor woman exposed the truth, and the narrator's grandmother went in search of the owner of the car repair shop. She was furious to learn that Chaq had left town.

Eventually, Abuelita sends a letter to a convent, asking the nuns about the whereabouts of Boy Baby.

The nuns reveal that Boy Baby was actually born in a town called Miseria. His real name is Chato, and he isn't of Mayan descent. The narrator also learns from her Abuelita that Chaq returned to look for her, but the old woman chased him away.

Later, the narrator receives news about Chaq's arrest for murdering eleven women. She is speechless and can only stare at his face in the paper, the face of a man she still loves.

The story ends with the narrator proclaiming that she will likely have five children in life. She will name her youngest child Alegre because life will always be hard.

Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 588

The narrator has been sent to a dusty town in Mexico to live with her cousins. She describes her lover, Chaq Uxmal Paloquin, who claims to be descended from Mayan kings, and explains that her grandmother, Abuelita, has burned her pushcart and chased Chaq away with a broom. The narrator met Chaq while selling cucumbers and other produce from a pushcart in front of a food store in the United States. She explains that she was not the first to go bad in this way; her mother also “took the crooked walk.” She struggles to describe her feelings for Chaq, seeing him as boy, baby, and man simultaneously. She says that she did not want her first sexual encounter to be like a prostitute’s and knew that it would be special with Chaq. Each Saturday, Chaq would come to buy fruit from her cart, and at night he would take her to his small room in back of Esparza & Sons Auto Repair. There he brushes her hair, tells the history of his people, and shows her his guns. He tells her how the stars foretell the birth of the boy-child who will restore the Mayan civilization. One night on his dirty cot, with the moon shining through the pink plastic curtains, Chaq initiates her after admonishing her not to tell; she feels that she is his queen and a part of that mainstream that all women wait to enter. On the way home, she wonders if any of the people on the street can tell that she is different.

Unfortunately, the narrator forgets to take the pushcart home with her that night. She lies to Abuelita and her uncle, saying that some children have stolen the cart, but the truth gradually comes out. Neighbor women tell of the dark Indian who pushes the cart behind Esparza & Sons on Saturday nights, and Abuelita finds the pushcart there. Esparza reports that Chaq has packed his things and left, and Abuelita forces the entire truth from her granddaughter. After learning that the girl is pregnant, Abuelita burns the pushcart, sprinkles her granddaughter with holy water, and goes early each morning to Esparza & Sons, hoping to find mail for Chaq. Finally a letter arrives from a convent in Tampico, and Abuelita sends an inquiry.

A reply is long in coming. In the meantime, Abuelita removes her granddaughter from the school, at which she is in the eighth grade. When the letter from the convent does arrive, it brings the truth: Chaq’s real name is Chato, and Mayan blood does not run in his veins.

In Mexico, the girl learns from Abuelita’s letters that Chaq had returned but was chased away. A later letter contains an article revealing a terrible truth about Chaq: He was arrested for the murder of eleven women. The narrator still loves him and cannot bear to look at the picture.

As the story ends, the narrator is waiting in Mexico for her baby to be born. When her cousins want to know what it is like to be with a perfect man she tells them they will be sorry when they find out. They discuss the meaning of love; the narrator compares it to a mute man she once saw, who kept a harmonica in his mouth all day and walked around wheezing in and out. She says she will have five children, and she will name this first baby Alegre, which means happy, because she knows that life will be hard.

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