Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Other Alamo” provides a contrarian view of a pivotal event in Texas and American history. It asserts that there is an “other Alamo” of defiant protest against Anglo-American tyranny, which needs to be recognized and applauded. While Espada does not dispute the valor of the Alamo defenders, he despises its effects both on present-day Texas and on the city his father visited in 1949. His main point is that Texas independence from Mexico led to the subjugation and oppression of the Mexicans who remained. This bias extended to other people of color. Espada is the champion of his father’s protest against racism in San Antonio, an action taken in concert with a black and a white companion. Sadness creeps in, however, when he notes that the site of that protest, the lunch counter, “was wrecked for the dump years ago.”

Espada’s poem commemorates “the other Alamo” and points to continued protest in the news of the defilement of the Alamo’s doors. His poem is important because it raises questions about the interpretation of a historical event. It is a risky poem because it challenges the traditional view of the winning of Texas independence. When the poem claims it was also traditional to treat Mexicans as “peasants” and to portray them as demonic, readers are pressed to question the value of certain traditions.

“The Other Alamo” is a passionate poem fueled by three strong emotions: the poet’s pride in his father’s...

(The entire section is 452 words.)