Chicano Studies Paper On Dagoberto Gilb's The Last Known Residence Of Mickey Acuna. Criticizm And Analysis

2912 words - 12 pages

Mail can be personal or impersonal, yet one thing makes them important. Receiving mail is the only thing that recognizes an individual as still being alive. If someone in the world is sending mail, then obviously there is still recognition of an individual identity--even if it is a bill collector. Whether it be family or business sending the correspondence, it is a link to the outside world. For Mickey and the other residents in the YMCA, it is a belief that there is something else out there other than the drab and monotonous world that they reside in. In Dagoberto Gilb's The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña, this belief and hope is the only thing that the residents of the YMCA have left. Their last contact with the world is the fantasy keeping them from a life of anonymity and oblivion.Through use of the internet, newspapers, television, and other sources, individuals keep themselves aware of the circumstances that surround them. However, not everyone can afford to keep up with the fast pace information superhighway and depend on the most inexpensive form of communication--mail. The impoverished lead simple lives astray from the world's complications; yet, in order to remain a part of society it is necessary to maintain this link with the circulating world. The residents of the YMCA recognize the importance of this link, for mail is symbolic of the only hope to continue living that the characters have in their bleak world. "The entire novel is filled with characters, who desire for something greater than what they already possess--filled with characters discontented in one way or another with their present situation" (Nakagawa). This desire is what keeps the residents at the YMCA slightly hopeful. The need for fulfillment leads them to live a life of fantasy.The setting Gilb created directs the reader to the city of El Paso Texas, a town on the border of Juarez. Automatically there is a sense of ambiguity and "nothingness" that sets the tone for the novel. Having been in El Paso myself, there is nothing there but a border and Fort Bliss, a military base. It is similar to the "Wild West" setting that is provided in Mickey's western. It is a barren dustbowl where one can remain anonymous--the perfect refuge "for an outlaw on the run" (Gilb 8). This refugee can be reflected on the author himself, who enrolled in the University of California to avoid the draft and then moved to El Paso ( to this dustbowl of a city is the shelter that Mickey seeks. The YMCA is another area where individuals come and go in search of a fantasy--something that will give them hope. "Such yearning for what is beyond their present situation may come from the characters not having a permanent home--whether this "home" be a physical or spiritual entity. The YMCA being a temporary residence reflects on the rootless nature of all the characters--the wandering nature of physicality and spirituality" (Nakagawa). The anonymity that these...

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