Culture, Identity and Lifestyle of Mexicans Essay Example
Culture, Identity and Lifestyle of Mexicans Essay Example

Culture, Identity and Lifestyle of Mexicans Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1453 words)
  • Published: January 21, 2022
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The Mexicans/Chicanos possess completely distinct ways of life compared to ours. While some individuals decide to continue their lifestyles, others decide to venture into the outside world in search of a better quality of life.

In his book, Oscar Lewis describes the great peasant masses and urban dwellers in under-developed countries, which make up around eighty percent of the global population. This paper draws from the book Five Families and the movies "El Norte" and "Stand and Deliver" to showcase the disparity between our way of life and that of the Mexican people, specifically focusing on the daily lives of the lower-class. Five Families.

The Martinez Family

Residing in the Barrio of San Jose, the Martinez Family represents a typical peasant family who rely on hard work in the field to survive. The family includes Predo,


his wife Esperanza, their children Felipe, Martin, Ricardo, and Moises, as well as their oldest daughter Conchita and youngest daughter Machina (Lewis, 24).

By 5:30 in the morning, the father, Felipe, Martin, and Ricardo would set out for a long day in the fields. Meanwhile, their mother would take care of domestic work. Pedro and Ricardo would weed, while Martin and Ricardo worked as peons at Don Porfirio's fields. The youngest daughter, Machina, helped take care of Moises and Herman while their mother left to buy food. Money was the family's biggest problem. Despite the assistance from his sons and wife, Pedro could only raise 2400 pesos a year, which was barely enough for their debts. They could not find anyone else to borrow from. However, this was not their only problem (Lewis 30).

Pedro and Conchita were engaged in a cold war, causin

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a rift between Pedro and his sons regarding their future career paths. The animosity between Pedro and Conchita began eight years ago when she got pregnant by the school principal. This occurred after Pedro had invested all his money in supporting her aspirations of becoming a teacher. Her relationship with her husband Juan also deteriorated, leading him to prohibit the rest of the family from visiting her. Pedro is concerned about his sons as he wants them to continue working in agriculture, whereas Felipe desires to learn about commerce and Martin aspires to become a baker. Despite these challenges, familial harmony prevailed.

The Gomez Family

Residing in Vecindad is the Gomez family who occupies Casa Grande, a single-story tenement. They consist of six members: Agustin and Rosa (the parents), along with their four children Alberto (the eldest son), Hector (the second son), Easter (the daughter), and Juanito (the youngest son).

According to Lewis, the family moved in order to change their lives, provide better education for their children, and expand their perspectives (66). Alberto, like his father, worked as a bus driver. Hector, who left school in fifth grade, had a credit account at a large department store and attended parties while Easter and Juanito were still attending school (78). Like other farming families, they experienced various challenges such as financial difficulties, the Cold War, and disagreements within the family. When Rosa was informed by the landlord about a 20-peso rent increase, it led to a heated argument between them. Agustin, known for his womanizing habits, had an altercation with his mother when he was found living with a young girl. Rosa believed that she could never forgive

him for his actions (90). At night when they slept, Rosa occupied the head of the bed while Agustin slept at the foot (64).

Rosa believed that Alberto was lazy and unproductive because he couldn't find another job to supplement the meager income he earned as a driver (Lewis, 119). Easter, Hector, and their parents also faced their share of challenges. Rosa harbored a desire to attend a commercial school and become a stenographer, something her parents hadn't anticipated (Lewis, 71). She felt dissatisfied with her parents' prohibition on dancing with boys, especially when other girls in Vecindad engaged in the activity. Similarly, Hector yearned for a new apartment for his family, but his family never provided him with an opportunity to explain himself.


El Norte

El Notre tells the story of Enrique and his sister Rosa, who flee their home in San Pedro, a small village in Guatemala, to escape being kidnapped by government troops. The troops were angry with their father's efforts to organize a labor union. They travel to El Norte (America), believing it will be a paradise, but the journey proves difficult. They are tricked and robbed by a Mexican who promises to help them cross the border. Later, they are captured by the U.S Border Patrol but manage to secure their release after Enrique cleverly alters some offensive language in Spanish. They face further challenges as they crawl through an abandoned pipe infested with rats. Eventually, they arrive at their perceived paradise where they find employment and housing with the assistance of someone who introduces them. Unfortunately, their newfound stability is short-lived.

Enrique received news

of an opportunity to become a foreman in Chicago, but it came with a cost. Unfortunately, due to his lack of decision-making skills, he was reported as an illegal immigrant and lost his current job. This employment offer gave him the chance to fulfill his dream; however, his sister fell ill from rat bites. He faced the difficult choice of either staying with her or accepting the job. In the end, he prioritized Rosa's well-being and committed himself to taking care of her. Nevertheless, he couldn't help but wonder if America truly felt like home or if he would find another place where he could belong.

Enrique and Rosa, along with other peasants, set off on a journey to explore the world in search of a better life. However, they encountered numerous obstacles along their path.

Stand and Deliver

Enrique Escalante became a new teacher at James A. Garfield High School. Despite facing financial limitations, he was given the task of teaching math to mostly Chicano students from disadvantaged backgrounds who had limited academic abilities. The students lacked cooperation, with Angel Guzman leading the provocation through inappropriate gestures. Nonetheless, Escalante persisted undeterred by their behavior and was determined to help them pass their challenging AP exams.

Through his personality and tough teaching methods, the students saw his determination and efforts and dedicated themselves to studying. Unfortunately, his continuous high-intensive working saw him get a heart attack. He defied the doctor’s instructions and came back to teach his students including holding group discussions at his home. They were surprised, moved and considered him the best teacher and when the test came they all passed. Unfortunately, there were suspicions of cheating

raised by the ETS prompting the students to retake the tests. The students passed and it was a win for both the students and Escalante since he got the funding to buy computers for the school.


From these incidents, it can be concluded that the Chicano students were fortunate to have a supportive teacher who improved their lives and provided them with opportunities to pursue higher education or choose their desired professions. Additionally, these incidents emphasize the significance of family connections and personal accomplishments within the Mexican community. The children's aspirations of becoming teachers, bakers, or entrepreneurs were seen as appropriate by their parents; however, the parents also had their own expectations for their children based on their way of life, cultural heritage, and familial ties.

Similarly, in Stand and Deliver, Escalante suggests to Anita's father that she should go to college. However, he disagrees and insists that she should follow his desired path instead of pursuing her own goals. This theme is also present in El Norte, where Enrique chooses Rosa over a job opportunity that would have allowed him to achieve his personal dreams. These examples reflect the clash of two different cultures. The American dream in the United States encourages individuals to strive for their own future, which may cause the importance of family to seem diminished.

Gaining an understanding of different cultures is essential to avoid criticizing them, including the issue of polygamy and polygyny which many find perplexing and ignorant. According to Professor Townsend's lectures, the same occurs in America and can be even more severe. Nevertheless, it is crucial for individuals to respect other cultures and their lifestyles.

These cultures have their own ways of life and have chosen to stay true to their original traditions and cultures, such as the "Five Families", or they may be seeking change but have been unsuccessful, like the "El Norte", or they may have successfully undergone change through persistent efforts, like the "Stand and Deliver".

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