Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal and the film "My Family" directed by Gregory Nava. Specifically it will discuss the process of assimilation into American life the protagonist in the book undergoes and compare it with the character of "Paco" (the narrator) in the film. Both of these characters are second generation Mexican-Americans. Their parents came to this country to get away from problems in Mexico, or to create better lives for themselves and their families. They have much in common, but they are different, too.
Paco, the narrator in "My Family" is perhaps the most assimilated of his family. Not only does he embrace much of American culture, he joins the Navy to serve his country. In the end, Richard joins the service too, but his future is left hanging, while Paco's is assured. They are both very strong men who could be family leaders in their own right, and they are both very intelligent and interested in learning. Paco seems more mature somehow, but that is because he ages more in the film, while Richard only matures enough to join the service and leave home. Paco seems more at peace with his life, while Richard still has questions and insecurities because of his age and his background.
Perhaps the most important commonality between the two characters is their love of learning and writing. Paco wants to become a writer throughout the film; and the story is actually his voice, and his writing coming to life. Richard also wants to be a writer and he loves learning and reading. Many of these learning opportunities would not be available to either of the characters had they grown up in Mexico, so they assimilated quickly to the American culture and learned to love schools, books, and the opportunities learning would open up for them.
In addition, these two men are both very intelligent. Richard begins to question the world around him and God at a young age, and Paco has great insight into his family that he shares through the film's narration. These two men are intelligent, not just from their schooling, but because they have quick, energetic minds and they question the world around them. It is another quality that is important for their success in life and the continuation of their culture as they assimilate into American society.
Both characters come from families who also assimilate to America but in varying degrees. Paco's family lives in a house they own, but they still decorate it in the colors and style of Mexico, while they fill it with collectibles and other Americanized items. They still celebrate holidays and other important occasions with the traditional Mexican dances and music. At one point, Chucho complains about the mariachi music, and is show with other young Hispanics at a dance featuring rock-and-roll sung by a white singing group. The next generation of both families simply assimilates into most aspects of American culture without even thinking about it, while the first generation makes an attempt to hold on to Mexican customs and ideas, to preserve their culture in a new country. For example, Juan Rubio tells his wife, "You are thinking yourself an American woman - well, you are not one and you should know your place'" (Villarreal 117). In fact, all she wanted to do was sit at the table with the rest of the family while they were eating, rather than serving them and eating later.
Thus, the first generation of transplants wants to remain essentially Mexican, while the next generation wants to become more Americanized and "normal." Both the characters illustrate this, because they admire their heritage but want to be more than simple immigrants, they want to be Americans. Richard puts this eloquently when he thinks to himself, "And he knew that he could never again be wholly Mexican, and furthermore he could never use the right he had as a male to tell his mother that she was wrong" (Villarreal 121). Richard shows that the next generation of Mexican-Americans did not want to emulate their parents; they wanted to assimilate into American culture and expand the…