Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

So Far from God, a complex, multidimensional novel, blends elements of New Mexican mythology, Pueblo stories, and European Catholicism with home remedies, recipes, and Castillo’s bitingly sardonic humor to tell the story of a remarkable family. The subtext of the novel examines the brutal poverty and discrimination faced by hispanic and indigenous peoples in the Southwest.

The novel is a probing critique of the racism, sexism, and materialism of American society in general and of social institutions such as the government, the church, and large corporations in particular. Woven into the narrative is a pointed examination of such contemporary issues as political oppression, economic exploitation, and environmental pollution. One of the novel’s main thematic focuses is environmental racism and the lack of protection afforded to minorities and the poor by the policies and agencies intended to safeguard them. The powerfully poetic chapter 15 juxtaposes brutal sociopolitical realities with the deep religious feelings of people making a Way of the Cross procession, presenting a catalog of social and environmental ills: minority families living below the poverty level, growing unemployment, deaths from toxic poisoning, radioactive dumping on reservations, birth defects and cancers linked to uranium contamination. The critique is not limited to sociopolitical issues, for the narrative also examines the problems of socially defined sex roles,...

(The entire section is 497 words.)


(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Woman as Daughter, Wife, and Mother
One of the major themes in So Far From God is the idea of a woman's role in society....

(The entire section is 907 words.)