Themes back like a mangled nail” (Viramontes 20).

Themes
are essential tools used by authors to convey or sometimes emphasize specific
messages in novels. In the two novels that will be compared are Under the Feet of Jesus and Dreaming in Cuban, the authors have
embraced their themes to reflect on the messages regarding the bigger picture
of migration and adolescence. This paper will offer a comparative thematic
analysis of the two texts about migration and adolescence. To achieve this, the
paper will focus on two different themes which are communicated by the two
texts that are the themes of work and female relationship.

            Garcia and Viramontes both have incorporated
the theme of work as an element expressed in the form of physical labor. The
two texts bring out similarities of life that migrants are undergoing as
laborers with the sole aim of providing for their families. Garcia Under the Feet of Jesus focuses on work
as something which Estrella and her family have to perform for their survival. To understand the effects of the
work among the migrants’ family (Estrella family) a mere look at the
piscadores’ bodies communicated that. For instance, the author indicates
that by picking grapes Estrella “back coiled like barbed wire” (Viramontes 53).
This similar to all the family members and the author states that Estrella
grandmother because of constant carrying of cement stooped and now “bent his
back like a mangled nail” (Viramontes 20). It is without a doubt that migrant’s
laborers are subjected to intensive as well as brutal work such their bodies
are reshaped. Throughout the novel, the migrants are in continuous aches,
hunger and tired after many working intensive working hours. Indeed, the author needed to
contest a culture where work (picadors) is erased by focusing on the nature of
the migrant’s labor. The
ads of Raisin portray a “woman wearing a fluffy bonnet, holding grapes with her
smiling, 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 exhausted
that even crying is a real struggle (Viramontes 53). In this novel, the author
intention was to highlight the hard work and the real struggles that migrants
undergo to make their contributions to the American society.  

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            The realities of work of the
migrant’s laborers are also similarly depicted in Dreaming in Cuban where the author also focuses work as part of a
family as seen from the novel Under the
Feet of Jesus. First, Celia’s grandmother is considered the perfect example
of what the Cuban socialism group dreamt (Garcia 138). Her hard work and little
obsession with work are considerable. Moreover, she portrays what it was with
the Intention of other Cubans of working for common good. In this novel, the author
depicts the grandmother as one of the members of the family leading the cause
of work more in more constraint manner than other members. This is similar to
Estrella in the novel Under the Feet of
Jesus whose dedications and work is evident even through her natural body.
As a result of work which Celia and other laborers had been subjected to
support their families in the midst of a dictator El Lider, she starts to think
whether what they were subjected to was work or exploitation. However, the
primary different in between these two texts are that Viramontes’s characters
are not forced by family members to work but each family understanding the need
of work. On the other hand, some of Garcia’s characters such as Pilars are
forced to work. For instance, after Lourdes discovery of the sexual pleasure
Pilars had done to herself by use of a shower head, she had to force her work and
under hard labor and poor twenty-five cents per hour (Garcia 27). Moreover,
despite most of the Cubans being socialists, Lourdes is depicted as a
capitalist thus her constant despise towards the revolution is evident. This
provides the divides that existed in migrants working for family as opposed to
“togetherness” observed in the novel Under
the Feet of Jesus. Some of the Cuban’s thought of work as the best reform
that is why they had an opinion of Raul Castro as “Reform.”

            Another common theme in the two
texts communicates the message of adolescence is depicted through the female
relationships and subjected tasks. In Dreaming
of Cuban, the author shows the existing rift between the Felicia and her
mother, Celia. Felicia constant struggle with her mother depicts her as a crazy
person and in most cases her conversations with her father. Garcia indicates
that at one time Felicia burned her menstrual blood out of her anger (150).
Celia’s struggles are evidenced even towards her siblings when the author
pointed out that “How is it possible that Celia can help her neighbors and be
of no use at all to her children?” (Garcia 117). Felicia’s lack of commitment
as seen with Estrella is considered the primary cause of family rancor (Garcia
107). Pilar, another character in the novel proves that the novel is full of
mother and daughter struggle. For instance, the author indicates that once the
family moved to America, there was a loss of touch between Lourdes and Celia
and rebel was part of the Pilar’s life. The family is said to have been very
united while they were in Cuba but their migration to American brought about
the constant breakups. When Lourdes learned about her daughter’s (Pilar)
behavior of sexually pleasuring herself using a head of a shower she had to
punish her (27). Pilar seemed to struggle as an adolescent whose attachment
with the mother was minimal.

            As opposed to the mother and
daughter 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 which
included young adolescent girls. For instance, the chores of the female are
laid down including the additional responsibility of cleaning, cooking as well
as taking care of the children (Viramontes 60). As a young girl and despite her
hard work and being extremely exhausted, Estrella is also expected to take part
in the cooking (Viramontes 63). This novel is somehow different from the Dreaming in Cuban because it shows the
make treatment of male children as different from that of the female. For
example, there are no chores given to both Estrella and Perfecto brothers. The
responsibility of the mother in this novel is precisely laid down and more
emphasis placed than in the other text. The author, in this case, compares
Petra’s belly growing child to a cotton sack which even in the fields must be
hauled (Viramontes 51). However, in both texts, the importance of mothers
towards their children is reflected and considered as the ultimate
responsibility for their children.

            In conclusion, it is doubtless that
the two texts have provided similar and different aspects of the theme of work
and female relationships and tasks bequeathed to them by the society. The two
texts consider work to be part of the migrant’s way of life and the only
survival mechanism. However, the two texts theme of work differs regarding the
willingness family members to work as well as the perceptions of the characters
towards work. Furthermore, the texts also change in regard to the relationship
between daughters and their mothers. In Under
the Feet of Jesus, the author depicts the strong relationship between the
mother and daughter, but this reflected a constant struggle between Felicia and
Celia 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 the
themes.   

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