Pocho recounts the lives of Mexican migrant farm laborer Juan Rubio, his wife, and their nine children as they attempt to hold their family together, survive the Depression, and adjust to American culture. As family bonds disintegrate, the only son, Richard, defines himself against both Mexican and American cultures and affirms his determination to become a writer. The first of eleven chapters introduces Juan Rubio, a colonel in Pancho Villa’s army, and depicts his grief over the Mexican Revolution’s failure, his flight from Mexico, and his resettlement in California; the chapter ends with the birth of Juan’s only son, Richard. Richard’s background and development from childhood to young adulthood in chapters 2 through 9 strongly resemble experiences of José Antonio Villarreal’s own life. The division of each chapter into two or three sections emphasizes the tensions, conflicts, and multiple perspectives associated with the construction of Richard’s personal identity: family, church, school, language, sex, friendship, career, money, prejudice, injustice, and, most important, dual cultural allegiances. Dramatic events of chapters 10 and 11 (including Juan’s leaving home, Richard’s high-school graduation, and his enlistment in the U.S. Navy) move Richard to the brink of adult responsibility and an uncertain future as a man and as a Mexican American.
As early as age nine, Richard is aware of his attraction to books and his interest...
(The entire section is 437 words.)