The Wedding Summary
by Mary Helen Ponce

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The Wedding Summary

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The Wedding fictionally re-creates a small-town barrio (neighborhood) near Los Angeles in the 1950’s and traces events surrounding the wedding of Blanca Muñoz and Sammy-the-Cricket Lopez. Ironically contrasting a young woman’s romantic dreams with her world’s reality, the novel portrays working-class Mexican Americans’ ability to live spirited lives on the fringes of society.

The Wedding’s two parts, told by an omniscient narrator, focus mainly on Blanca. The first part ranges from the characters’ childhood to just before the wedding. The second part narrates the traditional events of the barrio wedding day.

The novel begins when the eighteen-year-old Blanca and the twenty-two-year-old Cricket start dating. Both are junior-high-school dropouts with menial jobs; Blanca plucks turkeys, and Cricket collects garbage. Blanca, living at home, helps her mother with expenses. She and her girlfriends fantasize about romance and excitement— specifically, an ideal man with a steady job and a “cool” car. Unglamorous and inexperienced, Blanca lacks criteria for judging men. She finds Sammy-the-Cricket impressive because in fights he knocks his opponents senseless. Cricket is a pachuco, one of the 1950’s Mexican American youth who wore tailored, baggy “zoot suits” and often were involved in street gangs. Leader of Los Tacones, the neighborhood gang, Cricket had earned his nickname by stomping a member of the rival Planchados gang after beating him up.

On their first date, Blanca and Cricket see Gone with the Wind, a film Blanca has seen ten times, at the drive-in with their friends Tudi and Sally. Tudi, driving his own car, refuses Cricket’s urging to ram a car of Planchados who are peacefully leaving the drive-in. During the courtship, Cricket gets Blanca pregnant. Her condition apparently prompts Cricket’s offhand suggestion that they marry; however, since the narrative does not mention the couple’s intimacies, Blanca’s pregnancy becomes obvious only at the wedding dance.

As Blanca plans the wedding, her life’s reality intrudes upon her romantic hopes. Blanca wants to be the first in her family to marry ceremonially and thus make her family respectable. Blanca also confronts Cricket’s silent, obsessive will to dominate. Cricket sees a wedding as a means of increasing his own social status. Realizing he will not contribute toward expenses, even an overnight honeymoon, Blanca works overtime at turkey-plucking to earn extra money. Traveling by bus to Los Angeles, she buys her wedding dress at a bridal store that sells refurbished factory seconds to Mexican American brides. She selects a Gone with the Wind-style gown that allows her to see herself as a real bride and trendsetter, the first bride in Taconos to wear a “colonial” wedding dress. The marked-down veil, adorned with azares (wax orange blossoms traditionally worn by Mexican American brides), symbolizes Blanca’s yearnings for the wedding and her future.

The wedding day occurs against Blanca’s ambivalence: excitement at the day’s events, irritation with her expanding body, regret at surrendering her independence and her future paychecks to Cricket, anticipation of her wifely status. During the morning wedding mass, said by Father Ranger, misfortunes undercut romance. Cricket, hung over from partying with his friends, wears his “boppers” (dark glasses), and Blanca must hold him upright. The junior bridesmaid throws up on the hand-embroidered kneeling cushions. Neither bride nor groom receives the sacrament of communion because Cricket, in a screaming fit, had refused to prepare by going to confession.

After the mass, the high-spirited events proceed ceremonially. The wedding party cruises the streets in the Tacones’ cars festooned with paper flowers. After the wedding breakfast at maid-of-honor Lucy’s, the cars parade into Los Angeles to have the wedding pictures taken. The afternoon reception features a meal provided with dignity by Blanca’s...

(The entire section is 1,589 words.)