Project 2 paper

Phillip Nieto

American Religious Experience

Professor Sievers



Thomas Rivera “and the earth did not devour him


Rivera is a person who comes from a humble working class background with his parent working as migrant farmworkers. His life consisted of growing up in the field to eventually being an adolescent man working where Rivera took notice to many things. In his time as a field worker during the 50s he saw the differences amongst his people and those who gave them work. He realized the contempt for Mexicans held by the bosses through how they were economically & socially disadvantaged, and the overall lack of power held by his people. Breaking the cycle of merely working in the farms as his parents Rivera decided to pursue an education since it was the only option of escaping, much like Zitkala-sa option of escaping was also school. He attended college and eventually achieved a doctorate degree in Spanish literature, where in 1977 Chicano-American author Thomas Rivera published “And the earth did not devour him” which has been herald by many critics for doing wonders in the Chicano-American world.

Rivera helped give a new perspective never before seen in Chicano-American culture. Which is why for my second scholarly paper I have chosen to re-read and analyze the short story “The night before Christmas” by Thomas Rivera. I picked Thomas Rivera’s text and this vignette in particular for two reasons. The first being the significant impact on Chicano as well as American culture overall, and the second is the personal impact it has with my own families’ heritage. In this short story Thomas Rivera is able to capture the everyday lives of these migrant workers quite vividly. Through his entire work he expresses the exploitation of these families by giving his stories a very realistic feel in integrating the culture and identity of Chicano-Americans. Specifically in this vignette Rivera shows the reader that family is one of the most important values to these people, and the struggles they face trying to uphold there values.  I believe with this very realistic portraying of their actual endeavors and the use of strong literary devices are meant to invoke some sort of recognition to their wants, voice, and dignity as a human beings in the pursuit of the American dream.

Specifically when it comes to “The night before Christmas” I believe it is a great short story in depicting the sentiment of his people. One topic that appears quite frequently are the wants of his people whether it be wanting material possessions, providing for family, or just change. Rivera uses everything at his disposal to highlight what his people truly ask for. In the beginning of this vignette it starts off with the children of Dona Maria letting their mother know they want gifts from Santa Claus on Christmas, instead of what they usually get from “Santa” AKA their father or Don Chon. In order to quell this situations, just as in previous years, Dona Maria yet again lies directly to her children as seen here when the narrator talks about the day of the three kings, which is considered a major Mexican holiday, in saying “She would tell them to wait until the sixth of January, the day of the Reyes Magos,” (Rivera Kindle Locations 1521-1522) It is obvious they are too old to be fooled so easily and the children let Dona Maria know by saying “But why doesn’t Santa Claus bring us anything?…What about the oranges and nuts he brings you? No, that’s Don Chon don’t think we don’t know that. Aren’t we good like the other kids?” (Rivera Kindle Locations 1524-1527) . Right here Rivera is showing us the physical wants of these children by asking for toys, but more subtlety it seems Rivera uses the children to show how bad they want a change in general. I believe their wanting for a change, and having it be towards another culture’s icon (Santa Claus) represents the voice of his people’s wanting for a shift amongst their social standings in America. Instead of picking their own cultures holiday icons the children choose one that is idolized predominantly by white children. This shows their disappointment and realization of where their culture stands in American society since the three kings do not provide for them as Santa Claus does for other children.

In a conversation Dona Maria has with her husband the reader can see that she has set a goal in trying to break her cycle of lying where in their conversation they say “They don’t need anything I used to make my own toys, out of clay . . . little horses and little soldiers” “Yes, but it’s different here. They see so many things . . . come on, let’s go get them something.” (Rivera Kindle Locations 1538-1541).  Torn by the guilt of lying to her children that they will receive gifts later on for the day of the three kings she decides that this would be the year she goes above and beyond. She does so because to her family is important and she wished to please them, yet she is monetarily confined. Putting the family’s needs before hers is a great way in representing her want to provide for her family in addition to representing her people’s culture since family is an extremely important Latino value. Through these excerpts of text Rivera is able to shows the various wants of his people and represent their identity.

When it comes to literary devices such as language, emotions, and sensory reactions. Rivera makes great light of this in showing the overall difficulties Dona Maria faces, which in turn also represents the hardships faces by many other Mexican migrant workers. With regards to emotions in Rivera’s novel the one mostly used in this story is fear. One example is seen when Dona Maria talks to herself before going out to downtown by saying “My God, I don’t know why I’m so fearful. Why, downtown is only six blocks from here.”(Rivera Kindle Locations 1556-1557).  . We are shown just exactly how hard it is to get around in a place not all too familiar to someone in addition to barely speaking the native language. This implementation of fear gives the reader a view into limits in abilities of Dona Maria and representatively her people as a whole. It can make to most basic of tasks into painful odysseys, which is one way in how these migrant workers are put down. Also with Descriptive language and Sensory reaction Rivera is able to further elaborate on how these literary tools can best exemplify the plight faced by migrant workers. In the short story towards the end the narrators describes the experience of Dona Maria’s voyage to town in the quote “She walked to where they had pointed and entered the store. The noise and pushing of the crowd was worse inside. Her anxiety soared…She even started hearing voices coming from the merchandise. For a while she stood, gazing blankly at what was in front of her.”(Rivera Kindle Locations 1575-1580).  Not being familiar with how things are done or even are in downtown Kress Dona Maria, as did many other Mexicans who immigrated, finds it troublesome to get the toys for her children. As a result of journeying on this quest alone in an unfamiliar setting Dona Maria finds herself both physical and mentally pushed to the limit. Just like a fish out of water she panics, which overall is a great representation by Rivera of how hard it is for people trying to assimilate and make a better life for themselves or their families.

According to the scholarly article I read it touches on the concepts of how Rivera’s work touching on the importance of children, why these people are able to be oppressed, and how Rivera specifically is able to combine the voice of his people. With regards to children they are used to show the importance of Chicano culture since they are the future generation that will inherit the world from their parents. The experience of children are very impactful in determining if they will be the ones to change the standing of their culture, or be the ones to perpetuate a cycle that degraded and keeps them down as a people. (Emmanouilidou 14) In describing the reasons for why these workers are accepting of this oppression has to do with the past experiences of the generation before them. They current generation being oppressed has no self-confidence ad are accepting of where they stand allowing themselves to be opened up for exploitation. (Emmanouilidou 12) The explanation for how Rivera ties the voices of these workers, such as “The night before Christmas”, is through the voice of the narrator depicting the vignettes. The narrator through his personal experience in narrating what is happening expresses the real time events of the everyday life for Mexican migrant workers. (Emmanouilidou 13)

In conclusion is apparent that Rivera’s “And the earth did not devour him” was a huge success in helping depict the everyday Mexican migrant worker. He has a strong ability in evoking some sort of reactions in the reader with literary devices, descriptive language, and emotional appeal. Through this Rivera does a great job at showing readers exactly the problems faced by his people, and their wants for either changing the circumstances they find themselves in or simply doing what is expecting by going with the social flow.

                                                                    Work Cited                  

Emmanouilidou, Sophia. “Liminalities and Displacements: The Rites of Passage to Self-Identification in Chicano Writings.” Lisa Revue E-journal. Lisa Revue, 2013. Web. 3 May 2016.

Blog 7: Stedmen

In my final blog post I will talking about the book Faithiest by Chris Stedmen, and how he uses the theme of identity. Like the other authors to choose from Stedman brings up this idea of identity I believe in an effort to relate to people who might see life from his point of view. Throughout his novel, readers can see this theme of identity when he describes the struggles he faced while growing up in life. For example, “Not a real atheist. I’d heard words like that before— in my youth, when I was told I couldn’t be a real Christian because I was gay. Once again I didn’t fit the prescribed model, and I was not-so-gently shown the door.” Here he is told yet again that he is not welcomed to the group he identifies with causing him to question in himself where does he belong. Another example of this theme is also seen when explains how he lost faith gradually and changed his identity, “The conclusion of my Christian faith was a gradual process; it was something that happened in increments as a result of careful thought and investigation.” With these quotes he can show to people his own identity with what he sees himself as, and the negative attitudes he faced will trying to find his own identity. I feel through this he tries to relate with people who feel the exact same way of trying out who they are and may be lost. Possibly trying to show them that in the end it doesn’t matter who you think you are, but the enjoyment you get from the people around you. In terms of literary devices the entire book is perspective since it comes from the view of Stedman. The book being a memoir is a powerful lit device that helps put strong emotions behind the theme of identity and they fact that when people focus on commonalities instead of differences the world turn in the right direction.

Blog 6: Thomas Rivera

Thomas Rivera is well known for being a true authority as a Chicano author, and progressing the movement of civil rights for his people during a time where many struggled. Through his novella “And the Earth Did Not Devour Him” Rivera was able to channel the essence and everyday lives of Mexican migrant workers.  This included portraying what they thought, how they interacted, what they were like alone, and many other defining characteristics that painted the complete picture of who these migrant workers truly were. I believe that in a way he is not trying to be bias in his remarks, but more or less trying to tell a story. Rivera is narrating a tale through many perspectives, that these workers are people as well and just like everybody else are susceptible to the good and bad qualities of the world. The benefit being this novella happens to also highlight the struggles they faced by these worker, and the different ways in which they choose to coop with them. One example of Rivera empowering the Chicano movement is by showing the love for each other they have while additionally struggling to keep that love going, which is seen in the chapter “The night before Christmas”. Throughout the whole chapter it is written as a sad, yet in a way it is also a heartwarming story of Latino values. Such as this passage,

“Christmas the children asked for toys. She always appeased them with the same promise. She would tell them to wait until the sixth of January, the day of the Reyes Magos, and by the time that day arrived the children had already forgotten all about it.”

In this quote we see that mother has to lie to her children about not being able to provide gifts since the work pay already given to them is only for sustaining and not thriving. Still in the face of overwhelming odds this Latin mother does everything in her power to bring happiness to her children. She does so because in Latino culture a families’ happiness is everything, as evidently seen here where she decides to get toys

“But why doesn’t Santa Claus bring us anything?” “What do you mean? What about the oranges and nuts he brings you?” “No, that’s Don Chon.” “No, I’m talking about what you always find under the sewing machine.” “What, Dad’s the one who brings that, don’t think we don’t know that. Aren’t we good like the other kids?” “Of course, you’re good children. Why don’t you wait until the day of the Reyes Magos. That’s when toys and gifts really arrive. In Mexico, it’s not Santa Claus who brings gifts, but the Three Wise Men. And they don’t come until the sixth of January. That’s the real date.” “Yeah, but they always forget. They’ve never brought us anything, not on Christmas Eve, not on the day of the Three Kings.” “Well, maybe this time they will.” “Yeah, well, I sure hope so.” That was why she made up her mind to buy them something.”

Even in the end where the children were disappointed yet again, Rivera shows that the mother tried anyway because of her love for family, due to her strong Latino beliefs, therefore helping strengthen Chicano culture. I believe this is how he shows the strength that comes with having Latino values in the face of suffering (financially), and still having the fortitude to do what is hard because these traditional Latin values compel you to do so.

Blog 5: Howl

This week for my 5th blog I decided to cover Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl”. I picked “Howl” because of the significance it represents due to the fact that it was key in helping change the literary community. Through Ginsberg’s unconventional writing, “Howl” was able to do something successfully no other poem could, which was be different. It also happens to be a key theme that helps shape the poem. I believe this idea of challenging either what is considered normal or the rules set by society is the foundation which this poem builds upon. He shows the reader exactly how different his poem is by the stark contrast in perception held towards what a poem is supposed to be like, and not what it could be.  Ginsberg accomplishes this through very vulgar and intense description of all the characters and their lifestyles in his poem. For example Ginsberg says “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix”. This quote is meant to show the disdain for being different in a tight knit society where anything that may be different is inherently bad, and should be labeled as such.  Another example of challenging the rule set by society is seen when Ginsberg says “who got busted in their pubic beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York,”. Here I feel that Ginsberg in his own way is applauding people who smuggle drugs for their effort in challenging the social order, and even feels that is a shame they got caught for daring to do so.

When it comes to using literary tools, Ginsberg did a great job in packing his poem full of symbols. One of the techniques employed quite frequently by Ginsberg is his use of religion symbolism. This is seen when he says “who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy,” In this line he refers to motorcyclist as saintly. He uses religion as the symbol of good to help describe and praise the motorcyclist, who in “normal” society is considered a rebel. This is also something commonly seem in the poem where this symbol of morality given by religion reverses role. Instead of symbolizing those who are considered “normal” in Ginsberg’s actual society by those who deem fit. He perverts it by giving all that moral authority to those who are not seen as being worthy to fill the label, which also gives great incite into the mind of renegades in society.

Blog 4: Zitkala-Sa

For this week’s blog about Zitkala-sa’s writing “Why I am a Pagan”, I have chosen the 10th passage from the top. The overall message of this work is to prove why she would rather be labeled a pagan in the eyes of the “pale-faces”. Throughout the essay she gives examples comparing and contrasting the differences in life she has witnessed along with being hated for being different, and forced to assimilate with a Culture which is not her own. This is no different in the passage I have selected where she points out some of these issues. In my passage Zitkala highlight how racial lines that were once vividly drawn out for society are now just erased like a mistake that could be forgiven. I feel that she is trying to show how as time moves on the fallacies of man are erased forgetting that human elements went into these wrong doings. She also tells us that the prejudice has just being masked under the new message from these “Native Preachers”. Even though they may preach with morals in their overall message, it is a ruse in the sense that there is still hate underlying their true meaning.

The second passage I have selected in her essay is the last one, which I feel is the piece holding the text together. This passage sums up all of her points of  why she believes that her way is right, and why being labeled something bad is better than the alternative. To her being a pagan is better because at least being labeled as such she assumes the identity she was born into and not forced to have.  In the passage she also shows how she still recognized the worth of the “pale-faces” despite their intolerance of native culture. Zitkala-sa tells us that the people oppressing her are still god’s creature with his “love”. Still she ends the passage claiming how she prefers her way and her pride in being a pagan.

Blog 3 Emerson & Thoreau

The first paragraph I have chosen to discuss is the 25th one down in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Divinity Address. I picked this one because in a way I feel that I can relate to what Emerson is saying in this view/critique of religion. Throughout the paragraph he describes in adamant detail the mundane step by step process of being a religious practitioner. Even in the first sentence “Whenever the pulpit is usurped by a formalist, then is the worshipper defrauded and disconsolate.”, it is obvious he believes that true religious meaning becomes distorted through traditions.  According to Emerson when the people being taught to teach us religion follow this “formalist” approach towards it then the Worshiper’s view could not be correct. I believe it is Emerson’s Perspective in order to fully embody the true meaning of religion an individual must be able to relate. If a person is able to relate it in a way so they are able to fully understand the actual meaning of religion then they take the next step in becoming self-fulfilled. I agree with his view that religion through only this step by step processes in order to understand the true meaning is wrong. I do not think that there is this fine line that is mandatory to follow so a person can become closer to God. I also think it is good to relate with those teaching us religion in order to have a better comprehension, and the leaving of traditions so those who want achieve a higher meaning in their own way can.  Finally I think Emerson indirectly points out the fact that true religious meaning more than likely becomes distorted through the faults of man.


For my second paragraph I have selected a passage from Thoreau’s resistance to civil Government. I feel that his final paragraph is great in summarizing his overall argument towards the idea of having a government. The gist of his argument is that he does not fully oppose government or the idea of government, which is evident when he says “The authority of government, even such as I am willing to submit to for I will cheerfully obey those who know and can do better than I”. He does know that some people are more capable at dealing with the community than himself. Still he is privy to the fact there are those in power who should not be. His ultimate reality, which I am in agreeance with, is one where a government can actually take into consideration the needs of all its people. He uses questions to get his point across of how a “real” government is needed. Finishing his paragraph with a cynical view that such a just government has not come about, where in my opinion it comes back to the fact that when things left in hand of man becomes perverted.

Discussion Moderator: Emerson Annotations

One of the main themes students noticed throughout the first half of Emerson’s Divinity School Address is about the importance in finding beauty in everyday life. Some students identified Emerson’s description of finding beauty in several different things such as nature, the mysterious, and the divine. In the first paragraph, Emerson clearly talks about beauty in nature in both during the daytime and the night. Arthurflores notes Emerson’s colorful descriptions:

“Emerson is using great detail to describe the joy and beauty of life. He describes the sunshining as fire, which really helps the reader visualize the color. He also notes that nighttime does not take away this beauty in any way, rather it may help it.”

After talking about nature and the beauty it holds in ways we cannot fully understand, Emerson starts to zoom out and talk about beauty in the mysterious and the universe. He writes, “But when the mind opens, and reveals the laws which traverse the universe, and make things what they are, then shrinks the great world at once into a mere illustration and fable of this mind. What am I? and What is? asks the human spirit with a curiosity new-kindled, but never to be quenched.” On this, mcgrainr believes that “Emerson is saying that the world we live in is beautiful in its natural workings, but when one thinks about the laws of the universe, bigger more existential questions come about such as who are we and why are we here?”:

Several other students also saw this similarity noting that Emerson wants us to “open our minds up [to] see the abstract things around us like human spirit and curiosity.” While Emerson writes about this beauty in abstract and sometimes confusing ways, its clear that students caught onto this theme and understood the essence of what he was trying to say.

Upon sifting through the second half of annotations posted in our hypothesis group. There seems to be a couple different themes that are resonating amongst our class. One theme in particular that students of our class began to notice was Religion. When it comes to religion, Emerson expresses his view on the theme of religion in many different ways. In the lower half of his Divinity School Address it is evident in our classes’ annotations these expressions were picked up. According to the annotations Emerson has a very high view of religion so far as to say the way he described it is poetic. Other annotations go on to say he is also extremely philosophical in his choice of words regarding religion. Going further into this religious theme, our class expresses more in-depth opinions on what they think Emerson’s perception of religion is. According to some like in Bnawoichiks annotation: Emerson does hold religion in high regards but only if used properly. Not only in this quote but throughout his address there are subtle hints that seem to be making fun of religion or criticizing it at first glance. The reality being that he is not criticizing religion, but criticizing the fact mankind’s approach to it is all wrong.

This critique of religion also bring up an important theme that out class in a way indirectly addresses. The theme I am speaking of is autonomy. Towards the end of the class annotations they touch on what is believed to be Emerson’s interpretation of genuine religious use. This genuine use in a way is supposed to make people a little more free thinking and independent. Only when man gets too caught up in tradition, themselves, or doing what others think is good do we really lose sight of true religion. One annotation that caught my eye was made by Stephanie.Martinez: Her annotation states that people should do things on their own merit because they truly want to do good, and anyone pretending to do good for other will never be genuine only an imitator. This is a great statement because it shows the difference between those seeking attention for doing goof and those actually doing good.

Jeremy Lohr & Phillip Nieto

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

“S’pose not; you Kentucky folks spile your niggers. You mean well by ’em, but ‘tan’t no real kindness, arter all. Now, a nigger, you see, what’s got to be hacked and tumbled round the world, and sold to Tom, and Dick, and the Lord knows who, ‘tan’t no kindness to be givin’ on him notions and expectations, and bringin’ on him up too well, for the rough and tumble comes all the harder on him arter. Now, I venture to say, your niggers would be quite chop-fallen in a place where some of your plantation niggers would be singing and whooping like all possessed. Every man, you know, Mr. Shelby, naturally thinks well of his own ways; and I think I treat niggers just about as well as it’s ever worth while to treat ’em.”

I choose to use this quotation above in my week 2 blog for a couple different reasons. This quote found in chapter 1 describes a conversation held between Mr. Haley and Mr. Shelby. Throughout the quote Mr. Haley goes into great detail about how his personal beliefs towards Slave trading and slaves in general. In this quote Mr. Harley lets Mr. Shelby know he thinks it is like to be a slave in this world, and how he thinks compared to everyone else they treat their slaves well.  This quote is perfect in describing his overall character from both an objective standpoint and from his own personal view. I believe the words she uses in this quote are good in showing exactly how life was like during this time. One example is when Mr. Haley Believes that he is righteous in the sense that he treats every slave owns with respect.  When the reality of the situation is he still deals in humans lives which is never justified, but since Mr. Haley shows them more “respect” compared to his peers he believes it justifies his actions. This is a perfect insight into how people involved in slave trading were easily able to believe they were humane to slaves until they could be used for their own gain. Mr. Haley is not the only one at fault when it comes to his skewed view of slavery. Many more characters such as Mr. Shelby are at fault but Mr. Haley is a blatant example of people using anyone and everything to get what they want.


“In order to appreciate the sufferings of the negroes sold south, it must be remembered that all the instinctive affections of that race are peculiarly strong. Their local attachments are very abiding. They are not naturally daring and enterprising, but home-loving and affectionate. Add to this all the terrors with which ignorance invests the unknown, and add to this, again, that selling to the south is set before the negro from childhood as the last severity of punishment. The threat that terrifies more than whipping or torture of any kind is the threat of being sent down river. We have ourselves heard this feeling expressed by them, and seen the unaffected horror with which they will sit in their gossipping hours, and tell frightful stories of that “down river,” which to them is”

     “That undiscovered country, from whose bourn

     No traveller returns.”*


For my second quote, I choose a passage that starts on the beginning paragraphs from Chapter 10. My reasoning for picking this passage deals with real problem faced by many slaves of this time. After glancing upon it the reader can get a better grasp of the hell inflicted upon these people, reminding them it can always get worse. One would expect if they were a slave that it could not possible get any more horrible than is. These people would be dead wrong because apart from just being beat or tortured for disobedience there was another deterrent used by slave owners. This last form of punishment inflicted upon slave in the north was the threat of being sold to a plantation owner in the south. In the eyes of a slave this was seen as the cruelest punishment because of all the stigma surrounding the south and how horribly they treat their slaves. Stowe is genius in using this in her book due to the impact it can have on the reader. The quote above reinforces the harsh reality endured by slaves in America and tugs on the reader heartstrings through showing them that slaves can never catch a break in this world.

Ben Franklin

The Value I will be focusing on for my blog assignment this week is humility. When it comes to the word humility, in my mind it means being very humble. A person who shows humility is not someone who is either loud or boisterous. On the contrary they are silent and more than likely going to keep a modest opinion of themselves. In addition someone who has humility can show it by demonstrating their self-restraint from excessive vanity. Benjamin Franklin took a liking to this value but in a different way. He wrote in his autobiography that he was not one to actually acquire real humility as much as he was able to make it seem like he was. Ben writes of an example of his humility in his autobiography by saying “When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny’d myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition.” (paragrapgh 17 chapter 9) An example of him being “humble” paying off is seen when he says “I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engag’d in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propos’d my opinions procur’d them a readier reception and less contradiction.”(paragraph 17 chapter 9)


His argument for having humility in my mind is pretty logical. His argument is using this humble ways to combat a person’s pride. He says ”In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases.”(paragraph 19 chapter 9) I believe Ben franklin would like ever American to have this quality. I say this because Ben Franklin was a man who believed he knew what was best. He still is able to recognize things he sees a vices with in his own person. Being the kind of know it all he is. Ben Franklin believes if he needs humility to become an ideal person then definitely most of the American Public needs it as well. Overall it is not his goal to intentionally persuade people to see his own beliefs, but he is able to once he can describe the use for it.

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