The Hammon And The Bean
The hammon and the bean is a story written by Americo parades. The author has used the story to show problems Mexican American children face when growing up like poverty. The hammon and the bean takes place around 1926 in south Texas setting of Jonesville-on- the grande. It takes place under the shadows of Fort Jones. The author has used child characters to show the problems experienced by Mexican American children. The child characters do not understand the uneasiness of the adult world of south Texas, but they are able to observe. The main character in the story is Chonita who describes her grandfather’s house. Chonita later dies in the novel because of poverty, and illness.
The author has used irony and symbolism to bring themes in the story clearly. The main themes in the story are poverty, problems of cultural assimilation, inadequate health care, and tension. The story portrays the dilemma of poor immigrants. This paper analyzes the themes in the story the hammon and the bean.The author has used Chonita to show the poverty Chonita is facing with her family. This is evidenced by the words Chonita uses to describe her grandfathers house. Her grandfather’s house is dirty, yellow, and big framed. The narrator also notes why her grandfather hated the house (Saldívar 2006). This is because they had fleas. This shows that Chonita, and her family lived in poverty.
Another indication that Chonita and her family live in poverty is that, Chonita begs and receive food scraps from the army base. This is because they cannot afford food in the family. This is shown by the following quotation “…After the soldiers were through the cooks came out and scolded Chonita, and then they gave her packages with things to eat…”. This quotation shows that Chonita always begged food from the army base as they had no enough food in the family.In the story Chonita died of poverty, and other infections like malnutrition, and flu. This is because she did not receive good care as they had no food and her dad never cared for. She became malnutritioned as they had no enough food in the family, but only spent time begging food from the army base.
Chonita’s father was working near an uprising, but he was implicated because of racial profiling and injustice in the country. The narrator states in the story that, her new dad couldn’t care less as he did not care for the family. This affected Chonita as she became malnutritioned, and lacked proper medical care. She died due to lack of proper care. In paragraph 33, the doctor understates the situation to draw emphasizes. The doctor recognizes that it is not humane, but saves Chonita from poverty. Another evidence of Chonita’s poverty life is shown by the clothes she is wearing. The author describes Chonita in story after her death wearing her dirty, torn dress, and begging for hammon. This means that even in heaven Chonita cannot rise above her circumstances. Also, she cannot rise above her heritage. That is Chonita is not fully in heaven as she was not fully American.
The above picture of heaven shows that Chonita’s life is full of poverty. This is shown by the following quotation (Miller & Ivins 2004).“…I thought of Chonita in Heaven, and I saw her in her torn and dirty dress, with a pair of bright wings attached, flying round and round like a butter-fly shouting, “’Give me the hammon and the beans!...”Another theme in the story is inadequate health care. This is shown by the suffering Chonita undergoes. Chonita’s is not given proper care by her new dad. This makes her die of flu, malnutrition, worms, and evil eye. Her new dad does not care about the family and even for Chonita after she becomes ill. This is shown by the following quotation (Miller & Ivins 2004).“I wish I had known how sick she was, “my father said in a very mild tone. “Not that it’s really my affair, but I wish I had.” Chonita’s new dad made the comment after the doctor came to inform her about Chonita’s illness.
The doctor told Chonita’s father that, Chonita was suffering from flu, malnutrition, pneumonia. The statement made by Chonita’s new dad shows that he is not caring. Thus, it was difficulty for Chonita to get the right health care (Miller & Ivins 2004).Another theme is problem of cultural assimilation. This is evidenced by the attitudes expressed towards the soldiers in the story. The soldier came to old fortJones because of border troubles. Some people admired the soldiers while others hated them. Chonita describes how they admired the soldiers and how they hated them when they remembered the border troubles. Chonita would join other people to mock the soldiers (Kanellos 2003).“But we did not hate them for that; we admired them even at least sometimes.
But when we were thinking about the border troubles instead of Marion the Fox we hooted them and the flag they were lowering, which for the moment was theirs alone, just as we would have jeered an opposing ball team, in a friendly sort of way”.The author has also explored the theme of tension in the story. Most children in the story live under tension. This is because they do not know if they are Americans or Mexicans. This is shown by Chonita as she does not know if she is an American or Mexican. The children in the story salute United States when they feel it’s their country, and when studying the American Revolution. They don’t salute US if they do not feel it’s their country. This shows that the children lived under tension (Kanellos 2003).
Kanellos, N. Herencia: The Anthology of Hispanic Literature of the United States. Oxford University Press US, 2003, page170
Miller, C,. & Ivins, M .Fifty Years of the Texas Observer
Trinity University Press, 2004, page 93-104
Saldívar, R. The borderlands of culture: Américo Paredes and the transnational imaginary
Duke University Press, 2006, page 289