Lit Response # 6. Chicano Poetry

In his poem My Fifty-Plus Years Celebrate Spring, Luis Omar Salinas illustrates a form of poetry known as Chicano poetry. Chicano Poetry is written by Mexican-American poets who describe the hard working labor intensive lifestyle of working long and brutal hours in the fields. Salinas provides the reader with a unique perspective on a side of California that is often overlooked and under appreciated. The field workers, that are composed of Mexican-Americans who are over worked and under paid  working constantly to insure a successful harvest. In his poem Salinas writes:

” And with the passing of each season human life knows little change.”

Salinas allows the reader to think about the hard lives of these workers, waking up before dawn and driving into the fields to work under all conditions. In the quote above Salinas is illustrating how year round, these field workers are constantly working regardless of the temperature or crop. These workers are used to working in order to provide for their family and if they don’t work they will be unable to provide.

During Spring when the crops are ready to be harvested, these workers work diligently getting the crops  packaged and shipped to the markets. Salinas states in his poem how ” Mexican workers stacking up the trays and hard hours that equal their living.” In this line Salinas demonstrates how the workers jobs represent their way of life, by working long hours that require labor intensive work. Day in and Day out, these workers work the land that provide thousands of people with the fruits of they harvest.

Salinas ends his poem by writing, “I’ve heard it said hard work ennobles the spirit-If that is the case, the road to heaven must be crowded beyond belief.” By ending his poem with these lines, it is clear to see that Salinas is conveying how these workers are honest hard working people who through their honest hard work allow others to benefit from the fruits of their labor.


Reflection #1…Bret Harte The Luck of Roaring Camp

In his short story The Luck of Roaring Camp Bret Harte provides a harsh and realistic viewpoint of camp life during the Gold Rush. The Luck of Roaring Camp tells the story of a new born infant who is orphaned at birth. His mother, Cherokee Sal, was described as “coarse and it was it is to be feared, a very sinful woman. But at that time she was the only woman in Roaring camp.” (p. 353).  Part of Harte’s authenticity in his story is displayed by demonstrating how Gold Rush camps were predominately male and held a certain male dominated atmosphere, which was very rough. However, upon the arrival of Tommy Luck, which they named the infant, the camp transformed into a different atmosphere and Roaring Camp viewed Tommy Luck or “The Luck” as a symbol of pride and joy. The men of Roaring Camp seemed to take on more of a motherly role for The Luck by tending to him and providing a clean and appropriate cabin for the young lad. Harte describes the transformation of Roaring Camp for the better upon The Luck’s arrival. “Almost imperceptibly a change came over the settlement. The cabin assigned to ‘Tommy Luck’…was kept scrupulously clean and the whitewashed.” (p. 357). Harte displays in his short story how a group of rough men were turned soft over the arrival of a new infant. The men of Roaring Camp would cater to his needs and take him to the creeks and hillsides while they worked. Harte also displays how harsh life can be on minors and settlers during the late 1800’s with the sudden tragedy of the death of Tommy Luck and one of his many mentors Kentuck.