The Rain God

(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?

-Bridgett Gonzalez

3 thoughts on “The Rain God

  1. I feel that Islas should have made it clear if the character was gay or not. Simply because its part of what the character’s personality is. Even in today’s society when there are people who say I prefer not to have a title or I am the way I am; human. Yes, that’s fine but I feel taking the “title” is owning up to it and not letting racist people get the upper hand. Owning the title shows we know who we are and we accept it even if you don’t, so I feel that Islas should’ve made it clear for the same reason. It does bother me because it kind of seems like he may have been afraid of what the reaction would have been.

  2. Hello,
    In opinion, I do not see a problem in his way of writing The Rain God as he did. I believe that he wrote it that way to cause some sort of confusion within the reader for a purpose. I also think that if an individual does not want to place themselves within a certain category then they are also perfectly fine that way, it does not make them more or less of a person if they don’t or do. I like that he leaves the question thinking whether or not he was gay, this is similar to the film Mosquita y Mari, throughout the film there was never one was never quiet sure if they were attracted to each other.

  3. I in particular am not as worried about why Islas decided to make it an uncertain detail whether or not Miguel chico was in fact gay. What strikes me most is why Islas wrote the novel that way. By now we have read material talking about how much of a difficult subject homosexuality is in the Chicano culture, that should not surprise us. Many of us have had at least one personal experience in our lives that touches on just how much of a touchy subject this matter is. The fact that the reader is never definitively knows if Miguel chico is gay or not speaks to how big of an issue this continues to be. Islas wrote the novel this way because, being an openly gay writer might still raise issues with members of the audience. The issue should not be, is Miguel chico gay the question should be why would such a prominent writer like Islas refuse to have an openly gay character in the book.

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