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Rain of Gold Summary

Victor Villaseñor's 1991 book, Rain of Gold, is an account of the author’s parents, Lupe and Juan, and their lives as undocumented immigrants escaping from the violence of the Mexican Revolution.

The story begins with six-year-old Lupe Gomez, Villasenor’s mother, who lives in the Mexican mining village of La Lluvia de Oro—translated as “Rain of Gold.” Lupe lives with her mother, Dona, her brother, Victoriano, and her sisters Sophia, Carlota, and Maria. Lupe’s father, Don Victor, has left the village in order to find work. Once a beautiful mountain village, La Lluvia de Oro was developed into an industrial American mining operation following the discovery of gold. In 1910, the Mexican Revolution breaks out, and the villagers are targeted and in many cases raped and killed. Lupe’s father returns, and he and the family escape the violence and board a train to the United States.

The trip to the US is difficult, and the family endures terrible conditions, including lack of food and water. When they have crossed into Arizona, the family works in the mines there before moving to California and joining hundreds of other migrants as field workers. Life in California is challenging for Lupe, her family, and the other migrants, as they experience discrimination and violence.

In California, Lupe meets Juan Salvador Villaseñor Castro, a young man from the Mexican mountain village of Los Altos de Jalisco. Juan and his family have also left Mexico to escape the savagery of the Mexican Revolution. However, unlike Lupe, who is honest and good-natured, Juan is angry, aggressive, and has been working as a criminal and a bootlegger. Lupe and Juan become romantically involved. Lupe’s family is unhappy with their relationship, for they look down on Juan’s dissolute behavior:

“… speaking quite frankly, I want you to know that we will never permit one of our daughters to marry a man who drinks alcohol. In fact, we've both instructed our daughters since they were small of the terrible vices of liquor and cards."

But as Lupe and Juan spend more time together, Lupe’s influence calms Juan, and they fall in love, marry, and start their lives together with the blessings of both of their families.

Rain of Gold

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Victor Villasenor insists that RAIN OF GOLD is a work of nonfiction. So insistent is the author on this point, in fact, that he reportedly bought back the rights to his book from the original publisher when he determined he could not allow the 550-page work he views as memoir to be marketed as a novel. Never mind that the large New York publishing house had paid Villasenor $75,000 for the rights (presumably repaid to regain the rights). Never mind that the work had been selected as a Book-of-the-Month-Club alternate. Never mind that the book reads for all the world like a novel.

RAIN OF GOLD tells the parallel stories of Lupe and Juan Salvador—the author’s parents—beginning in 1911 when they are children living in separate places in Revolution-torn Mexico, and how it comes...

(The entire section is 774 words.)