The Barbarian Nurseries

Immigration to the United States of America has been monumental in the development of this great nation. In both The Barbarian Nurseries, written by Hector Tobar, and Summer of the Big Bachi, written by Naomi Hirahara, are centered around two characters that once moved to America from a foreign land, in hopes to have the American dream, the traditional social ideals of the United States, such as equality, democracy, and material prosperity. Both of the characters work in laborious fields and undergo scrutiny and interrogation of unfortunate circumstances that were out of their control.
The strain that is put on immigrants from other countries is prominent in both of these captivating novels. In The Barbarian Nurseries, the main character, Araceli, is the one that holds the Torres-Thompson household together, just as she holds this novel together. Araceli came to California after dropping out of art school in Mexico and moved to California and now lives in the family’s guesthouse. She does everything for the family; everything from keeping ants at bay by drawing a line of chalk on the kitchen floors to feeding and caring for the Torres-Thompson children.
To Maureen and Scott, the householders who Araceli works for, she is unfamiliar and difficult to understand. Yet to the reader, she is the understandable and recognizable hard working woman trying to support her family the best she can. Araceli takes pride in her work; she sends a portion of the money she earns home to her family. Since she cannot tell her employers how she truly feels about them, her actions and body language convey a message to the reader. For example, at a party, Araceli makes a dish in the colors of the Mexican flag, subtly expressing who she is.

Throughout the novel you see the struggle that Araceli goes through within herself. She frequently has internal dialogue that is a mix of English phrasing and Spanish language. Tobar uses this technique to demonstrate the struggle that is going on within her; she is caught between two worlds. Similar to The Barbarian Nurseries main character, Araceli, the novel Summer of the Big Bachi, is centered around a character that has moved to California from Japan. Mas Arai, the main character of the Summer of the Big Bachi, is a 74 year old gardener in living in Pasadena California. This man as been has seen significant struggles in his life everything from surviving the bombing of Hiroshima to the loss of his wife. Now his career as a gardener is beginning to diminish. “At the height of Mas’s career, he had half a dozen of these customers. Hollywood doctors, actors, big businessmen. But now there was only one. Mrs. Witt”, (Hirahara 40). With the dwindling of his career along with the struggles of his life, all Mas wants is to live the American Dream. With everything that is going on presently in his life, the last thing that he needs is for past circumstances to arise; but that is exactly what happens.
Mas finds himself unveiling a mystery of his past. The main character of Summer of the Big Bachi, finds himself in a predicament that threatens the wellbeing of his own life. A long kept secret and his fear of bachi, the spirit of retribution, are awoken when a stranger approaches him. He begins asking him disturbing questions about someone from Mas’ distant past, sending Mas on an urgent search for long-buried truths. Once the truth’s had been revealed Mas has an internal struggle, much like Araceli from The Barbarian Nurseries; for instance, “Mas could’ve blamed wishbone for not keeping his big mouth shut, or yelled at Mr.
Ryan for being ruled by a woman and not honoring a promise made between two men. He could’ve berated Chizuko and Mari for their sniveling, which made him delay a decision on a good deal. But when you came right down to it, it had everything to do with bachi and Joji Haneda” (Hirahara 136). This passage goes into detail the battle that Mas is going through during this period of his life. Just as Araceli had an internal struggle with defining who she was, he is trying to understand the best route for his situation.
Araceli not only goes through internal battles she also battles the justice system because of the mistakes of others. When a brutal argument between Scott and Maureen becomes heated and violent, the children are left in the care of Araceli. She struggles with what to do with the children. Her struggle with this begins when, “She stood with her arms folded and looked down the street, hoping to see el senor Scott’s car coming around the corner, but the vista never changed from the blank-page seep of wide roadways. He’s not coming home either,”(Tobar 132-133).
It is at this point that Araceli realizes that she has been left in care of the Torres-Thompson children. She ends up trying to take them to their grandfather’s house which ends up backfiring on her. Each of these stories has similar endings in that they both have positive outcomes for Araceli and Mas. In The Barbarian Nurseries, Araceli is goes through the court process, but because she is an illegal worker, there are added on difficulties with her court case. For example, there had been letters written such as this, “Araceli N.
Ramirez should be arrested and deported no matter what the outcome of the criminal proceedings the County undertakes against her. Illegal Mexican labor lowers wages while demanding entitlements…Not to mention they breed like there’s no tomorrow, regardless of whether they can support their children because they know the state will subsidize them” (Tobar 325). Similarly in the Summer of the Big Bachi, Mas finds him being the easiest person to blame, for instance he tells Yuki, “I have a bad feeling about this. Real bad feeling. The police need someone to blame.
They might cut a deal with the Japanese government, and I may be tried over there” (Hirahara 29). Both of these characters undergo struggles of being the easiest person to blame in the justice system and are attacked because of that, even though they weren’t the problem. However in the end, Mas ends up saving his friends and providing the escape they were searching for; and Araceli was let go and makes it to the desert with Filipe. Immigrants are people that move to a country or region to which they are not native in order to settle there.
In both The Barbarian Nurseries, written by Hector Tobar, and Summer of the Big Bachi, written by Naomi Hirahara, are centered around two characters that at one point moved to America in hopes to have the American dream. Both of the characters work in California and undergo struggles in their careers as was as in the unfortunate interrogation of the American legal system. Despite the strain that is put on the two individuals, Araceli and Mas, they overcome the struggles, and in the end are victorious in the trials and tribulations they both faced throughout the enticing novels, The Barbarian Nurseries, and Summer of the Big Bachi.

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