restricted access Gringo Iracundo: Roque Dalton and His Father

In prose and poetry and throughout his career, Roque Dalton used the life story of his U.S. émigré father to explore the themes of power, dependency, and identity that interested him and other Salvadoran intellectuals of his era. Yet it was a theatrical image of Winnall Dalton, that of a marauding, gunslinging cowboy, that other writers took as fact and that became part of the poet's posthumous reputation. I show here that the image of a western outlaw is wrong and that Winnall Dalton came from a comfortable, Mexican American family in Tucson that had fallen on hard times just before he migrated to Central America around 1916. Dalton delved into the paradoxes of his own upbringing—raised in a working-class neighborhood as the illegitimate offspring of a millionaire, a Marxist revolutionary who was the son of pure capitalism—almost until his death in 1975. Taken together, the shifting depictions of his father all point to a fuller, more nuanced understanding of Dalton's views on power and the nature of identity than previously understood in the context of the revolutionary struggle that ultimately consumed him.