The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Richard Rubio, whose development is the central focus of the novel, is presented in a third-person-omniscient narration that seems reflective, distant, neutral, even blandly indifferent to characters’ struggles. This mode of presentation is a strange contrast to the frequent episodes of passion experienced by the hero and his family. This portrait of the artist as a young man is more typical, however, in its depiction of its writer-hero as a sensitive child, a contemplative, curious, and voracious reader, observant and self-conscious. It seems Pocho is this boy’s own story and testament to the successful realization of his boyhood dream to write. Richard’s movement away from traditional values and roles contrasts vividly with his father’s conscious clinging to connection with his homeland and native culture. Richard is last seen entering war, not on a horse but on a ship, motivated not, like his father, by patriotic fervor but by desire to escape his own fierce inner conflicts and sense of personal loss.

The Juan Manuel Rubio shown in chapter 1 is a famous colonel in Villa’s revolutionary army. He is also a cold-blooded killer and a ruthless exploiter of women who is callous to the pain he causes. Yet he weeps profusely and grieves deeply when told of the assassination of his idol Villa. After flight to the United States and reunion with his wife and children in California, Juan appears to be a different man. He gives up gambling, women, and violence for manual labor, family closeness, and generosity to those in need. The patriarch of the Rubio family is a man of contradictions,...

(The entire section is 658 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Richard Rubio

Richard Rubio (RREW-bee-oh), a young man of Mexican heritage who, while growing up in the farmlands of California, aspires to be a writer. The only son of a disillusioned soldier of the Mexican Revolution who is in exile as a nomadic day laborer, he is indulged by his doting mother, eight sisters, and proud father. He is ridiculed by playmates as a “dirty Mexican” and forced by his father to accept a challenge to fight in defense of his male dignity and national pride. Richard is not a typical boy; his is a sensitive, observant, contemplative, and questioning mind that finds escape from shame, and shelter from violence and crudity, in books. When his father abandons his family for a young Mexican woman, Richard becomes the head of the household. He chooses, in self-defense, to throw off this responsibility. Only by enlisting in the Navy and heading into the unknown of World War II can he escape his mother’s clutches and the captivity of her insular world. Pocho stands as eloquent testimony to Richard’s successful escape, on the wings of language, from the poverty, lack of education, cultural oppression, and social injustices that pervade the world into which he was born.

Juan Manuel Rubio

Juan Manuel Rubio (hwahn mahn-WEHL), a fiercely passionate patriot in the Mexican Revolution who settles into family life as a migrant worker in the United States during the Depression. In his role as a soldier at the beginning of the novel, Juan is a cold, ruthless killer whose only real sentiment is dedicated to his worship of Pancho Villa and the cause of the Mexican Revolution. After the assassination of Villa, Juan escapes criminal prosecution...

(The entire section is 724 words.)