Books Always Running by Luis Rodriguez and Locas by Yxta Maya Murray show the life in the gang and the way people join street gangs for different reasons; the violence of the street life, poverty of the representatives of the gangs. Meanwhile, the motivation for the main character of Always Running Luis Rodriguez to become a leader differs completely from the motivation of Lucia from Locas. The story of the book by Luis Rodriguez is narrated by the author, while he is also the main character. It tells about the “la Vida Loca” of the gangs in East Los Angeles, which was “an epicenter of gang activity” (Rodriguez 4). The book Locas by Yxta Maya Murray tells the story of two teenage girls, one of them is a sister and the other is a girlfriend of a young member of a gang; then involving in the business of drugs.
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Both books show the violence of a gang life; “I was frustrated because I felt the violence was eating us alive” (Rodriguez 113), for example, the acts of beating up each other and other people, shootings, stealing. Some things are indispensable attributes of the gang’s everyday life, such as guns, drugs, alcohol. The members of the gangs not only distribute these harmful things among everyone who wants but use them as well in their everyday activities. Thus these books raise both the problem of violence and the problem of the neighborhood with such dangerous people that would not stop at anything. Thus the theme of violence makes the readers believe that even usual people and their kids can become victims of gangs.
Books Always Running by Luis Rodriguez and Locas by Yxta Maya Murray also show how poverty can increase the chances for some kids to join gangs. Thereby, bad conditions of living, apartments full of rats and insects, holes in the walls, starvation described in the books can serve as a vivid example of the actual state of things in poor quarters. Another reason for kids to join street gangs is that they are from dysfunctional families or those where parents are working hard in attempt to maintain the whole family. As shown by Luis Rodriguez, the only way to get out of the gang and to break the chains of violence is to become educated. Though the main character quitted the gang, his son became a member of a gang many years hence. It makes one think over not only our education but the impact of our words and actions on our relatives.
The main characters have different motivations for becoming leaders. Luis Rodriguez wants to become a leader of the gang in order to protect Latinos (his family is of Latin American origin) from the acts of racism and discrimination of Latino people, “For month we had been pushed from one house to another, just Mama and us children” (Rodriguez 14). His brother Rano was often beaten by other kids, “Yet in the streets, neighborhood kids often chased Rano from play or jumped him. Many times he came home mangled, his face swollen” (Rodriguez 21). He had to be strong and to fight against the acts of violence even if it led to violence as well. And Lucia from Locas became a gang leader because of money and recognition. Lucia strove for making money, as Manny, who always had money and she “noticed how everybody on the street would high-five him, show him respect” (Murray 22). She wanted to have her own gang, though “Gangs are mostly a man’s business. The cholos don’t want no sheep to ever get a taste of their action” (Murray 13).
Books Always Running by Luis Rodriguez and Locas by Yxta Maya Murray show the life in the gang and the way people join street gangs from different reasons; violence of the street life, poverty of the representatives of the gangs. Poverty, lack of education and finance, bad living conditions, lack of parental care can bring children to the streets, where they join gangs. Thus different people have a right to choose whether to join a gang or not.
Murray, Yxta Maya. Locas. New York: Publishers Group West, 1997.
Rodriguez, Luis. Always running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.
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