Last Updated September 5, 2023.
Pocho, by Antonio Villareal, is the story of Richard, a Mexican boy living with his family in the white-dominated culture of southern California in the 1930s. Pocho means “child of immigrants.” However, while Richard’s family clings to Mexican culture and embraces traditional Mexican values, Richard is an independent-thinking young man who wants to assimilate into American life. His parents favor him over his sisters and want him to remain true to their cultural traditions and family heritage.
The book tells the story of how Richard’s family came to California, how his father became active in the Mexican community, and how Richard rebelled against his culture and his Catholic religion. Richard longs to go to college and become a writer, but he is forced to drop out of school and help support his family. While Richard’s father continues to cling to his Mexican ways, his wife grows increasingly dissatisfied with living as a subservient wife in a culture where women have much more freedom and independence than she is used to. After struggling to come to agreements, Richard’s father moves out and leaves Richard to take care of the family. Richard, however, escapes the life he rebelled against for so long by enlisting in the service and going to fight in World War II.