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The Somebody Essay, Research Paper
In the first few lines of Danny Santiago s story, The Somebody, the reader is told that Chato lives in east LA, where Chato s specific urban background seems to be related to his decision of becoming a writer. The thought of an individual from such a background making an achievement in their life is simply out of reach and mocked throughout the story. This gives the setting for the author s portrayal of Chato as an individual who writes his name to make him a Somebody. His lost of a gang, minimal attention from a household leads him to write his name on places like fences, playgrounds, markets and liquor stores to feel noticed in his barrio or neighborhood.
The author uses Chato s life situations to give an impression of Chato as an individual who needs to feel like he is Somebody. After telling his father that he was quitting school, his father felt that Chato did not want to become a lawyer and defend the Mexican people. A remark like that gives the reader the impression that the father feels that there is no hope for his son. The son feels that he is being laughed at and mocked, he also feels that he could be dead and his father would not take him serious. The author portrays the father as clueless as to what his son needs. This gives the impression that the neighborhood where Chato lives is no place for high expectations for his son. Santiago s perception of Chato s background is one of a poor family, and the neighborhood believes that you can t be what you want to be because of where you come from. Also related to a lack of attention within his household he feels that his house is too crowded and seeks attention from his mother who is busy with taking care of the babies. In the line, Sometimes my mother asks me to hold one for her but it always cries, maybe because I squeeze it a little hard when nobody s looking , this shows resentment that Chato has for the babies that are stealing his attention from his mother.
The importance of being in a gang is another reason why Chato needs to feel like somebody. That is why Chato writes his name, and includes de Shamrock , which is the name of the street where he lives, and also the name of the gang he belongs to. The lost of his gang is very important to Chato because he feels without your gang you are a person with a lost cause or a nobody. So in order to keep his status of a Somebody Chato must try his best to keep his gang alive. This is expressed when he says In the old days they wouldn t dare to come on our street but without your gang you re nobody. Chato writes in certain places for territorial rights, which is a major gang activity. Places like Forney Playground, the tennis court, swimming pool and in the gym. Also Chato manages to keep his gangs arsenal of weapons. From this the reader is able to see that Chato the only one left in his gang desperately holds on to what he calls the good old days where he felt his gang was on top of the world in order to feel he is a Somebody.
Writing is more to Chato then letters on a surface, it is a way of communicating to his community that he exists and wants to be recognized which will make a Somebody. Chato brings a strong sense of seriousness to the writing he does. We can see evidence of this when he describes how real smooth and mellow, and curvy like a girl in a bathing suit his handwriting really is, and likes the attention it brings to him. He also discriminates against the writing of others like when he met the doctor, and said it was real ugly, man, like a barbed-wire fence with little chickens stuck on the points and all flopping their wings about his handwriting. From this I gather he feels some sense of superiority when it comes to handwriting. Also he claims that in some places he uses chalk, which works better on brick or plaster. But crayons are the thing for cement or anything smooth , knowing the difference indicates a thought process goes into the writing of his name. Finally Chato s reaction to when Crusader drew a heart around his name led me, as the reader to believe in the level of seriousness that Chato takes in writing his name. In my opinion he feels that it is his profession to write his name in East LA in order to become famous.
In the story Mr. Calderon is the voice of reality for Chato but Chato ignores and dismisses him. From their initial contact he has been trying to get Chato out of his little world. But Chato does not hear him because other voices within the story are louder. All of the gang members have moved away and the counselor refers to Chato as the last of the dinosaurus , meaning how they were eventually extinct, Chato has to come to terms that his gang does not exist anymore. The counselor also states that the Sierra s forgetten you re alive , which implies that all his writing is pointless because the rival gang does not consider him a threat. In my opinion Mr. Calderon does not provide the sufficient counter-balance from the wider culture that glorifies fame. My literary perception of Mr. Calderon is the adult version of Chato, who has made a good life for himself despite the same urban background he came from. He basically used to counterpoint the ideals of Chato within the story. Ironically each time Chato sees someone reading his name he fanatasies about a story of something that could have happened with him and how he writes his name.
In conclusion my impression is that there is a personal sense of sympathy that recognizes character. He understands that becoming a writer is not an easy process despite the views of others, especially when coming from and urban background.
Danny Santiago uses the character Chato to show if there is really a difference in the different types of writing whether on a wall in an urban neighborhood or in a book writing is still writing. Both individuals face the same trials and tribulations of becoming a writer therefore a writer from an urban background has seen a wider spectrum of where individuals come from, can write based on his on life conditions as seen in the story The Somebody by Danny Santiago. Basically Chato is used to show that writers who come from urban backgrounds are usually mocked for wanting to become a writer. But overcome all obstacles and should be recognized for their achievements by the writing community. The same way Chato longed for recognition from his community urban writers should be known for their literary works.
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