Ernesto Galarza is a boy from a very small, Mexican village near Tepic. He lives with his mother, but later dies. His aunts and uncles then raise him, making him work and do chores most of his childhood. This memoir follows him up until his teenage years; rurals come to his village, looking for people to join the revolution. Ernesto and his family flee the dangers of the revolution and cross the Mexican-American border, but life is just as difficult there, in the end he returns to his barrio. Ernesto goes through many obstacles but because of the influence of his mother and his uncles, José and Gustavo, he knows what he’ll do to overcome the hard times that’ll come throughout his life.
Ernesto’s mom was his most important influence. Situations like his mom being divorced and being a single mom are some things that’d influence his choices in life. “The divorce was a simple matter. He wrote my mother a letter and she wrote one in return” (Galarza, 15). Doña Enriqueta was a single mother and lived with her brother, José and Gustavo. Ernesto was always there with his family. She showed him the importance of work at a very young age by running errands and taking care of the family’s chickens. The decisions of his mom of course influenced him a lot, therefore taking a large part in his decision making when he’s older. His life decisions will later be based off of what he learned from his mother and others. In relation to the world now, people still make decisions based off their younger, life experiences. Doña Enriqueta’s role in Ernesto’s life was to be his mom and guide him through difficult times. She had to be mentally strong to conquer all these obstacles in her families way. She always wanted her family to be safe and united. She moved them away from the dangers of the revolution: going from Tepic, to Acaponeta, to Mazatlán, to Tucson, and to Sacramento. “The last I saw of Mazatlán were the salt flats west of us” (194). That would have been a hard decision to make, they left their things behind, they had to be seperated for some time to be able to continue their travels. They moved away from their home town. Ernesto’s mom was both a mom and dad to him, making her the most important role model and affecting his young life.
Ernesto’s uncles, José and Gustavo, had important roles in his life. They had been there for him since he was a baby. His uncle José was the one in charge oh his protection. Ernesto felt lucky to have him be the next above him. His uncle Gustavo had taught him important signs and had turned them into their own secret language. “Gustavo taught me these important signs and refined them into a secret code that only he and I used” (19). Gustavo was a really influential person in Ernesto’s life. He wanted his family to always be together. Gustavo showed Ernesto that unity was important in a family. Gustavo helped his family out with money; he’d write letters to his family, therefore being an example to future Ernesto. He kept all the letter his uncle sent him; in those letters was how to reunite their family when they were apart. “That evening at mesón, José and my mother and I reread Gustavo’s letter, the last we received in Mazatlán” (205). Gustavo was emotionally strong, but he would always show his worriedness for his family, he helped in whatever way he could and Ernesto would later want to do the same, being his uncles were an important influence because of the impact they made on his life. They influenced his views on the importance of family, being a hard working person, and bettering the circumstances for one’s family and yourself. His uncle José showed him a lot after his mother and uncle past of Influenza. He sent him to work to help out his family, he also took care of his sisters. Uncle José really emphasized the value of being hardworking but because Ernesto’s mom was an even greater influence to him; her being a female and such a great influence is important because males are supposed to have greater influence than the females.
Because of the impact that these three people had made on him when he was younger, Ernesto went on to become something greater. Ernesto saw how hard working his Uncle Gustavo was at the railroads when they had moved to Sacamento, therefore influencing his beliefs in laborers having better working conditions and going on to continue his activities as a labor organizer. He had gone to school to make something out of himself. He coud have not cared about what he was doing and going with his life but the he saw that his family strived for the best and they taught him to want that. Ernesto never took things for granted and he always chose to look at the good side in things no matter the situation. Throughout the memoir, he never loses his positive approach on situations and it’s amazing to see how years ago influences were your family members and how they were the one’s to affect the way you thought and acted, not social media or friends. The way these three people affected Galarza’s life was in a positive way. This is because of the way Galazarza betters himself and takes on the title of being the man of the family as he grows up. In a way Galarza has to take on being an adult at a young age. He begins to work at a young age, while still being in school.