Monday, October 26, 2009

George Washington Gomez: Destiny or Doomed Despair

The passage that struck me the most in the dreaming scene wasn't what he was dreaming about, but his initial thoughts when he woke up. Guanlinto thought, "Goddam ridiculous, having the daydreams of his boyhood come back to him in his sleep. They had helped relieve his bitterness and frustration when he was a boy, those daydreams. " This passage was significant because it seemed like he was still experiencing frustration in his life and his old dreams came back to bring him comfort. As in childhood, he reverted to a fantasy land to make sense of what was going on around him and, in fantasies, he could control his own destiny and make decisions that led to victory. His dreams also seem to be a manifestation of the frustration he still feels in his adult life. He has this name, George Washington Gomez, and this destiny to live up to and to become a great man, but his name is derrided by his father in law when he says, "You look white but you're a goddam Meskin. And what does your mother do but give you a nigger name. George Washington Go-maize." When Ellen goes on to say his father gave it to him in honor of our country’s founding father, and a supposed great leader, his father in law negates Guanlito’s father and, seemingly, his destiny, when he says, “it don't sound right.” I found it very telling that “it was then that he decided to legally change his name to George G. Gómez, the middle G for Garcia, his mother's maiden name.” I think, at that moment, Guanlito decided to cast off the “destiny” cloak that was associated with the “Washington” in his name and embrace who he really is.

The shifts in perspective made the reading more interesting. During the intital battle of San Jacinto, I didn't know at first if Guanlito was fighting on the Mexican side or the American side. I also had a hard time trying to figure out if Guanlito was inside his own head or the head of Santa Ana. Also, when he spoke of living during his great-grandfather's time and organizing fighting militias, making the Colt revolver, hand grenades, and portable mortar, I had a hard time diffrentiating if this was his childhood fantasy speaking, or him reflecting in adulthood. The lack of definitive perspective, the seeking and soul-searching for who he is, and what he is to become, seems to be a recurrent dream that has woven itself through his life. His recurrent dreams of Mexican defeat at the hand of the Gringos indicates some repressed feeling that he and his people have been wronged in the past and that it is still going on in his present.

One of the most powerful passages in the story was, “Why do I keep on fighting battles that were won and lost a long time ago? Lost by me and won by me too? They have no meaning now.” It seems that, even though he is, as he stated, “a grown man, married and with a successful career before him,” the dreams of his youth still haunt him. In his dream, he gathered other repressed people, the Irish and the escaped Negro slaves, and they defeated the American army like David taking down Goliath. Even though he has cast off all aspirations to be a great leader and a powerful commander, even though it would appear that he is done with living up to his great destiny and is ready to live a normal life, his destiny is not done with him.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely insightful and just lovely, Demetrius. Excellent readings.