Themesare essential tools used by authors to convey or sometimes emphasize specificmessages in novels. In the two novels that will be compared are Under the Feet of Jesus and Dreaming in Cuban, the authors haveembraced their themes to reflect on the messages regarding the bigger pictureof migration and adolescence. This paper will offer a comparative thematicanalysis of the two texts about migration and adolescence.
To achieve this, thepaper will focus on two different themes which are communicated by the twotexts that are the themes of work and female relationship. Garcia and Viramontes both have incorporatedthe theme of work as an element expressed in the form of physical labor. Thetwo texts bring out similarities of life that migrants are undergoing aslaborers with the sole aim of providing for their families. Garcia Under the Feet of Jesus focuses on workas something which Estrella and her family have to perform for their survival.
To understand the effects of thework among the migrants’ family (Estrella family) a mere look at thepiscadores’ bodies communicated that. For instance, the author indicatesthat by picking grapes Estrella “back coiled like barbed wire” (Viramontes 53).This similar to all the family members and the author states that Estrellagrandmother because of constant carrying of cement stooped and now “bent hisback like a mangled nail” (Viramontes 20). It is without a doubt that migrant’slaborers are subjected to intensive as well as brutal work such their bodiesare reshaped. Throughout the novel, the migrants are in continuous aches,hunger and tired after many working intensive working hours.
Indeed, the author needed tocontest a culture where work (picadors) is erased by focusing on the nature ofthe migrant’s labor. Theads of Raisin portray a “woman wearing a fluffy bonnet, holding grapes with hersmiling, ruby lips” provided a glimpse of the reality of work (Viramontes 49).Moreover, this is shown in the case of Estrella who is depicted so exhaustedthat even crying is a real struggle (Viramontes 53).
In this novel, the authorintention was to highlight the hard work and the real struggles that migrantsundergo to make their contributions to the American society. The realities of work of themigrant’s laborers are also similarly depicted in Dreaming in Cuban where the author also focuses work as part of afamily as seen from the novel Under theFeet of Jesus. First, Celia’s grandmother is considered the perfect exampleof what the Cuban socialism group dreamt (Garcia 138). Her hard work and littleobsession with work are considerable. Moreover, she portrays what it was withthe Intention of other Cubans of working for common good.
In this novel, the authordepicts the grandmother as one of the members of the family leading the causeof work more in more constraint manner than other members. This is similar toEstrella in the novel Under the Feet ofJesus whose dedications and work is evident even through her natural body.As a result of work which Celia and other laborers had been subjected tosupport their families in the midst of a dictator El Lider, she starts to thinkwhether what they were subjected to was work or exploitation. However, theprimary different in between these two texts are that Viramontes’s charactersare not forced by family members to work but each family understanding the needof work. On the other hand, some of Garcia’s characters such as Pilars areforced to work. For instance, after Lourdes discovery of the sexual pleasurePilars had done to herself by use of a shower head, she had to force her work andunder hard labor and poor twenty-five cents per hour (Garcia 27). Moreover,despite most of the Cubans being socialists, Lourdes is depicted as acapitalist thus her constant despise towards the revolution is evident. Thisprovides the divides that existed in migrants working for family as opposed to”togetherness” observed in the novel Underthe Feet of Jesus.
Some of the Cuban’s thought of work as the best reformthat is why they had an opinion of Raul Castro as “Reform.” Another common theme in the twotexts communicates the message of adolescence is depicted through the femalerelationships and subjected tasks. In Dreamingof Cuban, the author shows the existing rift between the Felicia and hermother, Celia. Felicia constant struggle with her mother depicts her as a crazyperson and in most cases her conversations with her father.
Garcia indicatesthat at one time Felicia burned her menstrual blood out of her anger (150).Celia’s struggles are evidenced even towards her siblings when the authorpointed out that “How is it possible that Celia can help her neighbors and beof no use at all to her children?” (Garcia 117). Felicia’s lack of commitmentas seen with Estrella is considered the primary cause of family rancor (Garcia107). Pilar, another character in the novel proves that the novel is full ofmother and daughter struggle. For instance, the author indicates that once thefamily moved to America, there was a loss of touch between Lourdes and Celiaand rebel was part of the Pilar’s life. The family is said to have been veryunited while they were in Cuba but their migration to American brought aboutthe constant breakups. When Lourdes learned about her daughter’s (Pilar)behavior of sexually pleasuring herself using a head of a shower she had topunish her (27).
Pilar seemed to struggle as an adolescent whose attachmentwith the mother was minimal. As opposed to the mother anddaughter struggle in Dreaming in Cuban,Viramontes provides a strong relationship between Estrella and her mother. Thus,the author of this novel focused more on the burden bequeathed to female whichincluded young adolescent girls. For instance, the chores of the female arelaid down including the additional responsibility of cleaning, cooking as wellas taking care of the children (Viramontes 60). As a young girl and despite herhard work and being extremely exhausted, Estrella is also expected to take partin the cooking (Viramontes 63). This novel is somehow different from the Dreaming in Cuban because it shows themake treatment of male children as different from that of the female.
Forexample, there are no chores given to both Estrella and Perfecto brothers. Theresponsibility of the mother in this novel is precisely laid down and moreemphasis placed than in the other text. The author, in this case, comparesPetra’s belly growing child to a cotton sack which even in the fields must behauled (Viramontes 51). However, in both texts, the importance of motherstowards their children is reflected and considered as the ultimateresponsibility for their children. In conclusion, it is doubtless thatthe two texts have provided similar and different aspects of the theme of workand female relationships and tasks bequeathed to them by the society.
The twotexts consider work to be part of the migrant’s way of life and the onlysurvival mechanism. However, the two texts theme of work differs regarding thewillingness family members to work as well as the perceptions of the characterstowards work. Furthermore, the texts also change in regard to the relationshipbetween daughters and their mothers.
In Underthe Feet of Jesus, the author depicts the strong relationship between themother and daughter, but this reflected a constant struggle between Felicia andCelia as well as between Pilar and Lourdes. Despite sharing these two themes,the author of the two texts seems to differ on various issues about thethemes.