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Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez
Breaking Through is a book that shows the struggleof immigrants in the United States. The story in it shows thestruggle of immigrants and in so doing, evokes empathy for the lessfortunate. Campus is that point in one’s life when the body isformed, but then the intellect is still nascent. At this point inlife, students are intelligent and highly impressionable. Theinfluence that they receive from literature at this stage have a hugesay in what their thought processes would look like in the future.Moreover, courses that involve a language are of particularimportance in this regard. Francisco Jimenez’s book BreakingThrough should be taught in English Class (EWRT 1B)as it is rich in content and promises to be the backbone ofthe students’ linguistic thought processes for long afterward.
ABrief Background of Breaking Through
The book by Jimenez is an autobiography. It tells the life story ofthe author, his brother and his mother when they are taken in by theimmigration police. The gist of the story is that Jimenez goes tohell and back trying to keep his health, education and familytogether through the poverty, forced labor and the prejudice thatimmigrants often face when they live in the United States, or evenany other foreign jurisdiction for that matter.
One of the only good things about the Francisco Jimenez’ story isthat it ends well. By the time the story winds up, he is a lecturerat Santa Clara University. The rest provides for a heart-wrenching,grim, but inspiring reading. In the start, a 4-year-old-Franciscotells the reader that his father would dig a hole under the borderfence off Mexico and the United States of America. The family thathe was born into was dirt poor. The only way that they saw could liftthem out of the grinding poverty was the opportunities that werepresent on the other side of that wall. The writer experienced mixedfeelings of joy and foreboding when the family finally finisheddigging the small tunnel a decade later and went into the USA asillegal immigrants.
Family,Tenacity, and Determination in Breaking Through
From the book, one sees that “When we arrived in the United States–Mexico border, Papá told us that we had to cross the barbed-wirefence without being seen by La Migra, the immigration.” (Jimenez8-10). Once in the United States, the fear of poverty is replaced bythe fear of deportation. It does not take too long for them to befound out by the hawk-eyed immigration police. One day, he is removedfrom class and is immediately deported back to Mexico with hisfamily. But then his father is indefatigable he ensures that thefamily now gets back into the United States of America the right way.It belies the policy adopted by successive administrations (Trumpbour109-112). They get proper immigration documentation. FranciscoJimenez works hard and graduates from high school in Californiawhere the family settled. The elation of being admitted to universityis soon overshadowed by the troubles of life.
Another reason why the Breaking Through should be read out inEnglish class is that the book radiates the theme of parentaldedication, crucial to young individuals that may soon becomeparents. There is a stoic air in the way that Francisco’s parentsbear the brunt of their parenthood. Joaquina, Francisco’s mother ismost graceful all through, the father maintains a fatherly figure allthrough the book (Figueroa 22). Due to the back-breaking work thatFrancisco’s father had to endure in the fields, his health beginsto deteriorate. That means that there is less food on the Jimeneztable each day. Francisco is forced to take up a job in the localschool as a janitor so that the family can stay afloat. As if thatwas not enough, the conditions at the job are so bad that he getssick while on duty. Jimenez tells us that he contractedmononucleosis, common among immigrants in tough work conditions(Gundogdu 10). However, since he and his family do not have medicalcare insurance covers, he cannot afford to see a doctor about it. Hewas getting no slack. Jimenez had to continue working as a janitor tosupport his family. At the same time, he also had to go throughcampus while nursing an aggressive disease that would have beenentirely treatable if he was not poor.
The book expresses real human struggle in and between cultures. Forinstance, Jimenez points out that, "I thought it was strangebecause at home we were taught that it was disrespectful to arguewith our parents, especially our father" (78). It shows thesocieties of people that are different. We live in a time in theAmerican life that immigrant culture and social position is lookeddown upon by the current administration. The book helps one toempathize with immigrants through understanding the culture shockthat people go through just to get a taste of the ‘American Dream’(Bochner 1). The effect is felt in their familial relations.Throughout the book, the one thing that keeps Jimenez going isfamily. From the very start, his father digs a tunnel into the UnitedStates so that his family can have the chance of a better life(Figueroa 22).
The American dream is not rosy. There is also the burden of crime tocontend with in addition to the grind of work. For instance, "Oneevening when we got home after work, we discovered that someone hadbroken into our house and stolen our cash. That month we could notsend money to our parents. From that day on, Roberto hid the moneyinside a chipped ceramic bust of Jesus Christ that we had found inthe public dump." (Jimenez 23). All that happened when theyhad officially relocated to California. Once there, he does meniallabor hard, back-breaking work. It takes a toll on him. He pays theprice without a whimper, all for his family. They still face thetroubles of an American lifestyle, such as theft. When his body cantake no more of the punishment, Jimenez picks up where his fatherleft off. He becomes a janitor, and it is not easy. At work, hecontracts mononucleosis but has no access to healthcare, as do somany immigrant families (Murphy, Blanchard and Hill 5-7). So he getsa degree while working for family upkeep, struggling with the diseaseall the time.
English class is one of the few platforms that allow a candiddiscussion of how society treats others and its own. Therefore,Jimenez’ book will help gives perspective to a widely misunderstoodsegment of society (Crosnoe and Fuligni 1471-1476). Jimenez himselfspeaks of his eventual triumph through education he says, "Mysuccess made me happy, but, this time, the grade seemed lessimportant than what I had learned from reading the book."(Jimenez 101)
Bochner,Stephen. "Culture Shock Due To Contact with UnfamiliarCultures". Online Readings in Psychology and Culture 8.1(2003): n. pag. Web.
Crosnoe,Robert, and Andrew J. Fuligni. "Children From ImmigrantFamilies: Introduction to ……The Special Section". ChildDevelopment 83.5 (2012): 1471-1476. Web.
Figueroa,Allen. "Pride after Prejudice". America 81.21(2001). Online. Internet. 29 Mar. 2017. .Gündoğdu, Ayten.Rightlessness in an Age of Rights. 1st ed. 2015. Print.
Jimenez,Francisco. Breaking Through. 1st ed. Boston: Houghton MifflinHarcourt, 2002. Print.
Trumpbour,John. "“What Part Of ‘Illegal’ Don’T You Understand?”:Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal undocumented: HowImmigration Became Illegal". New Labor Forum 24.3(2015): 109-112. Web.
Murphy,Arthur D, Colleen Blanchard, and Jennifer A Hill. Latino WorkersIn The ……..Contemporary South. 1st ed. Athens, Ga.:University of Georgia Press, 2001. Print.