Locas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: December 19, 2017

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Submitted: December 19, 2017

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Locas is set in L.A’s Echo Park and portrays the difficult life conditions and predicaments of Chicanas through the eyes of Lucía and Cecilia, two young women who become representative of two different ways of understanding life, destiny and commitment to the community. The novel inserts the lives of these women in the form of alternate chapters, providing the reader with a contrasting view of the same situation and their subsequent life options.

Both protagonists go on a journey to discover their identity and self-definition from a comparable starting point. The structure of the characters is carried out using the first-person narrative, both characters explain that they have not attended school for long and have no professional occupation. In this same line, Locas depicts el barrio in which most of its youth experience a parallel personal predicament, and the absence of educational and economical resources express their social situation. This provokes their want to be apart or indulge themselves in gang activity, to offer their lives with a sense of belonging, an effortless economic salary, as well to accomplish their obligation towards the community.

The lack of a masculine father figure, who, in the basis of the traditional Mexican/Chicano family accepts the leading role in terms of economic solidity, renders that the families embody with a sense of shattering and a lack of inner structure. On that note, together with the need to find basic economic resources leads many youths, boys and girls, the alternative for the easy way out, taking their own lives, and the individuals surrounding them, to the max. Manny and Cecilia’s mother, in this case, find the path assumed by her children as an act of uprising towards her as well as the ultimate manifestation of the fact that her dream will never come true.

“Mama was getting smaller every day with worry. ... She had that American dream the same as anybody else. But she wasn’t saying anything like that after Manny started bringing home that money he gets from selling gangster guns. She just started squeezing back into her skin like she wants to hide, doesn’t want anyone to notice her” (14).

The partaking of women in gangs, even though it is not as perceptible and expected as it is among men, is rising immensely and Locas is a good example of such a situation. The preponderance of men participation in gang activity defines gangs and their setting as mostly masculine, and therefore, forces women to find and claim their own space within such a classified and well-known micro-community. One way to replicate the tremendously traditional masculine and feminine roles that the gang system depends on, which helps the girls attain credibility within the group, is through becoming the sexual companions of the masculine, active members of the group.

Cecilia, after getting pregnant and losing her baby due to one of her boyfriend’s customary beatings, chooses the good, religious life to overcome her worries. Lucía, on the other hand, uses her relationship with the front-runner of the gang to seek power in a desperate way, and is portrayed as a witty, clever and sneaky woman, whose central goal is to overcome male power and authority and create her own female gang, and becoming a person that deserves to be respected within the community. Amongst the facts and essential ideas related to life, personal relationships and el barrio itself, their concept of female identity in general and motherhood, in particular, situates them in an utterly conflicting circumstance.

The situation of el barrio teenage women, being characterized by a lack of educational resources, and subsequently, plans for advancement in the personal and social domains, forces these women to justify themselves as individuals with the help of a man, therefore, replicating the traditional stereotype of the economically dependent and submissive woman, who agrees to take her role of a continuing mother and companion. Cecilia, for example, one of the components of this two-headed character that she and Lucía create during the expansion of this novel, responds clearly to this stereotype and portrays motherhood as the eventual goal in her journey for personal identity. She states:

“I wanted that and to have myself a baby. A woman’s got to have a baby. ‘I’ll juice you up real good, Muñeca’, Beto said in his thick voice, and he had that macho thing about him, cool and hot at the same time like my brother, that I didn’t mind it so much. Girls in the clicka had babies like they were buying dollies. Most sheep don’t know the difference until the kids pop out of their bodies with all of that blood and the tearing, the crying and drooling and feeding and nights and nights of no sleep, and their man out playing with some other girl who’s not spread out in the hips and tired all the time. It’s nothing like what you see in the movies, but I knew that even before Beto got me knocked up. Didn’t matter to me. Having a baby’s the only thing that would get me a better life. In this town, a woman doesn’t have a hundred choices. Can’t make yourself into a man, right? Can’t even pick up and cruise on out of here just because you get some itch. And even though people talk all about doing college, that’s just some dream they got from watching too much afternoon TV. No. A woman’s got her place if she is a mama. That makes her a real person, where before she was just some skinny or fat little girl with skin like brown dirt, not worth a dime, not anybody to tip your hat to” (23).

Cecilia’s portrayal of the expectations of young women in el barrio demonstrates that motherhood is viewed as a significant act of survival in the society that discriminates these girls as women and as active individuals of the group. However, even though Cecilia is aware of the various opportunities that women should have she recognizes that her destiny and she decides she should take advantage of her capacity to have children and the social expectations for women to become an individual.

Therefore, girls in the barrios where vital gang activities occur, try to find a boy whose spot in the gang is infamous, and consequently, they gain themselves a certain social position, as well as a source of an economic stability they commonly lack. These young couples, who replicate the most limiting roles and purposes for female deliverance, recurrently become parents at an early age and need to satisfy parental roles that they are commonly unprepared for. 

 

 

 


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