The Poem "El Gato" by Jimmy Santiago Baca | Free Essay Example

The Poem “El Gato” by Jimmy Santiago Baca

Words: 661
Topic: Literature


Literature acts as a store for people’s culture. It also communicates one’s feelings as it shows how people in society do things. Poems are forms of literature that are essential in modern life. People use poems to express their feelings or happenings that exist and take place in society. In poems, people can analyze the view of the author in the poem, tone, plot, and society from which the poem originates. The essentiality of this paper is to analyze the poem El Gato by Jimmy Santiago Baca.

Jimmy Santiago Baca comes from a very humble background. His life a child was completely unbearable. The parents of Baca abandoned him when he was two years old. As a child, Baca lived with his poor grandmother. He also lived in orphanage and streets. At twenty-one years old, the courts convicted and sentenced Baca to jail after the police arrested and accused him of drug possession (“Jimmy Santiago Baca: The Poetry Foundation” par. 1). In his poem El Gato, Baca speaks of his life history as a poor child. Through the poem, Baca tries to show the effects of poverty. He views that poverty hurts the life of people right from their birth to their adulthood.

Baca starts the poem, El Gato, talking about a young boy (8 years old) called El Gato. Baca writes “At eight El Gato’s uncle lures them with grain in a pail and shoots the brown pig between the eyes, shoos the red-snouted white and black brothers from guzzling blood in the trough” (“Three Online Poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca – English” par. 1). As a result of poverty, El Gato begins to witness and see killings at a very tender age. At ten years old, the boy is accustomed to all sorts of murder as he walks along the streets, seeing the blood of people everywhere in the streets.

As El Gato grows, he becomes part and parcel of poor life. For instance, the writer says “Nobody cares what El Gato will find to eat or where he’ll sleep, under street lights throwing dirt clods at hornets’ nests, unafraid of being stung, he vows to avenge his poverty” (“Three Online Poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca – English” par. 3). Baca shows how El Gato continues to suffer due to his poor life until the time that he decides that he will suffer no more.

El Gato thinks of many things that he can do to alleviate him from poverty. He decides to involve himself in crimes to sustain his life and forget the life of poverty. At twelve years old, El Gato sees that he is not good begging dime and inhaling glue-rag. As a result, he decides to become a drug dealer. In the poem El Gato, Baca says, “With all your police and prison sentences, you cannot chase El Gato from the street or stop him from selling drugs because in his square white paper lives God” (Schakel and Ridl, Jack 56).

At sixteen years old, El Gato joins a gang. The author says “He joins homeboys against a rival gang, skips bleachers over hand-rails out of breath, and holds court in the field with bats, pipes, chains, brass knuckles and guns” (“Three Online Poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca – English” par. 6). El Gato hates his life that he tries to kill himself when he was nineteen years old. The imaginary voice of El Gato’s daughter seeking for the care of her father (El Gato) saved him from shooting himself to death.


In his poem, El Gato, Baca views that poverty hurts the life of people right from their birth to adulthood. He speaks of his life history as a poor child. Throughout the poem, Baca tries to show the adverse effects of poverty on people’s lives. Baca uses his life experience to create a masterpiece of literature to educate the readers and listeners of the poem on the adverse effects of poverty.

Works Cited

Jimmy Santiago Baca: The Poetry Foundation 2014. Web.

Schakel, Peter, and Ridl, Jack. 250 Poems: A portable anthology. 2nd ed. Bedford: St.Martin’s Press, 2007. Print.

Three Online Poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca – English 2014. Web.