Gary Soto\'s Like Mexicans: Personal Experiences


My decision to write in response to Gary Soto\'s work, “Like Mexicans”
was influenced for the most part because of the similarities between myself and
Gary Soto, and our families included. Gary Soto is a Mexican American male, who
grew up in the San Joaquin Valley in the industrial part of a town called Fresno.
His grandparents came to this Great Valley in search of creating a better life
for themselves and their families. I am also a Mexican American male who was
born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley in a small town called Porterville. My
grandparents migrated with their children, my mother, father, and their brothers
and sisters in hopes of creating a better life for themselves as well. At the
time economic betterment meant working as a hired slave for minimal income and
keeping your mouth shut. After all, you were nothing more than a wetback who
came to America to reap her benefits.(This ludicrous ideology is still present
today) Gary Soto\'s grandparents and my grandparents, although they ma y be a
generation behind one another, I am sure were exposed to many of the same
hardships and or social barriers. It was not uncommon back then as it is not
uncommon today for Mexican families with minimal work skills to be forced into
the fields to work with their children alongside in hopes of escaping poverty.
For the most part such families remained poverty stricken due to unfair and
illegal wages and work conditions. However irrelevant this all may sound, facing
similar hardships or obstacles will often create a sense of unity among those
who are affected by such conditions. In short, I feel that not only do Gary Soto
and I share a common ethnic origin, but all that comes with our origin, be it
pride, shame, or ideology.
"Like Mexicans" is a short story in which Gary Soto is constantly being
reminded that he should marry his own kind. His own kind being one of Mexican
descent, and of poverty and refraining from others, especially “Okies” as his
grandmother used to always say. Soto ends up marrying a Japanese woman, not a
Mexican. But he still has to deal with his internal struggle and acceptance of
this choice. One cannot be looked down upon for questioning oneself and the
decisions one makes, especially when it comes to marrying after being raised in
a household that reinforced the belief , “Marry Your Own”. My mother and my
father never told me that I should marry one of my own. My mother always told me
to do what ever it would take to make myself happy. Now that I think about it,
she did sometimes tell me that I could meet a nice girl at church. “Mijito,” she
always began, “Don\'t you want to marry a nice girl? There are a lot of nice
girls that go to church. How can you want to marry a girl who will sleep aroun
nd?” I was reluctant to tell her that the nice girl\'s parents were saying the
same thing to them about me. Gary Soto\'s mother never said too much to him in
regards to marrying any one type of woman in particular. “If you find a good
Mexican girl, marry her of course,” (page 696) she once replied to him. She did
however respond in a worrisome manner and with hesitation when she realized that
her son was going to marry a Japanese woman.
I was in love and their was no looking back. She was the one. I told my
mother who was slapping hamburger into patties. “Well, sure if you want to marry
her,” she said. But the more I talked, the more concerned she became.(page 697)
I recall vividly when my mother met Tanya, my wife, for the first time.
She said that she liked Tanya, but that she didn\'t think she was really my type.
What then was my type? After marrying Tanya, I began to wonder if she was “
Mexicana” enough for me. After all, she was very liberal, strong and open minded.
I think this is why my mother used to tell me she didn\'t think Tanya was my type.
My mother reminds me of Gary\'s grandmother, very submissive, docile, your
stereotypical Mexicana. Tanya didn\'t like to cook, she was in no way submissive,
and was at times what my mother would term as unlady like.
Gary Soto\'s grandmother believed that just about everyone was an “Okie”
if