(This is my post on Padilla’s work and Islas. Dropbox did not allow me to open the “Mosquita y Mari”.)
Arturo Islas’ novel The Rain God is not praised in Chicano literature due to its unsavory characters and the threat people believe they have on the Chicano community. Islas presents a story composed of a main character, Miguel Chico, which comes across as gay. His uncle is called a coyote, which is a middle man for the Chicano labor workers and the American looking to contract these cheap employees. His father is a character which is presented as being either too macho or not macho enough. His father’s character is insecure with his role. Miguel’s relationships, particularly with other men, are ruined by his father’s hyper masculinity. He has trouble trusting other men. Miguel’s mom is unloving and racist. All of these characters are personalities that exist among the Chicano community but Chicano literature could not accept his book. Islas was strong supporter of the Chicano Movement and he believed that there was not one ideal type of Chicano. He believed that people did not have to be a pachuco or migrant worker to be called or identified as a Chicano (Padilla 2009). There are themes of sexuality both for men and women and “Islas claimed to be interested in examining relationships between sexuality and masculinity rather than in championing a particular notion of sexual identity”(Padilla 2009). Throughout his novel, Islas never confirms if any of his characters are indeed gay. There are only references to being gay but the reader is left without knowing. Islas does not represent openly gay Chicanos in his work and this is one his failures. He carries the closeted Chicano identity throughout his work and never addresses issues of openly gay Chicanos.
How do you feel about the closeted nature of Islas’ work? Does this bother you or do you understand his choice in writing The Rain God as he did?