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Alex and the Hobo

A Chicano Life and Story

By José Inez Taylor and James M. Taggart

Publication Year: 2003

When a ten-year-old boy befriends a mysterious hobo in his southern Colorado hometown in the early 1940s, he learns about evil in his community and takes his first steps toward manhood by attempting to protect his new friend from corrupt officials. Though a fictional story, Alex and the Hobo is written out of the life experiences of its author, José Inez (Joe) Taylor, and it realistically portrays a boy’s coming-of-age as a Spanish-speaking man who must carve out an honorable place for himself in a class-stratified and Anglo-dominated society. In this innovative ethnography, anthropologist James Taggart collaborates with Joe Taylor to explore how Alex and the Hobo sprang from Taylor’s life experiences and how it presents an insider’s view of Mexicano culture and its constructions of manhood. They frame the story (included in its entirety) with chapters that discuss how it encapsulates notions that Taylor learned from the Chicano movement, the farmworkers’ union, his community, his father, his mother, and his religion. Taggart gives the ethnography a solid theoretical underpinning by discussing how the story and Taylor’s account of how he created it represent an act of resistance to the class system that Taylor perceives as destroying his native culture.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Illustrations

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiii

We have written this book for the people of Antonito and for anyone with an interest in a good story. We present one man’s view of history in his work of fiction and in his account of how he wrote about his experiences. Readers from Antonito who occupy a different position in the social structure may have another view of their town. We hope they will have the chance to add their own stories to this one. ...

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-12

Alex and the Hobo is a work of fiction about a nine-year-old boy’s loss of innocence and transition to manhood. The author, José Inez “Joe” Taylor, created the story out of his own coming-of-age in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado. The tale is set in 1942 in Antonito, a small railroad town in the valley’s southwestern corner. Alex Martínez ...

PART I: THE STORY

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CHAPTER 2: ALEX AND THE HOBO

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pp. 15-70

A young boy stood inside his father’s barbershop looking out a large window. He could see the building directly across from him but could not make out anything more than a block away, up or down the street. Gusts of wind rattled the plate glass, and for five days, gales had howled ...

PART II: THE LIFE

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CHAPTER 3: THE VALLEY

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pp. 73-88

Joe Taylor set Alex and the Hobo in the San Luis Valley, a high alpine basin in southern Colorado extending north and south between ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Alex moved across the valley floor between the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the San Juans to the west. In this he replicated Joe Taylor’s experience of ...

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CHAPTER 4: AWARENESS

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pp. 89-103

Joe Taylor believes that the Mexicanos need to band together under a leader to protect themselves from the greedy, who have exploited them and taken much from their valley without giving anything in return. His ethnic awareness and class consciousness developed and reinforced each other in different ways, particularly after he got out ...

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CHAPTER 5: SOCIAL STRUCTURE

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pp. 104-117

The roots of Joe Taylor’s moral vision extend deep into his past and include the years when he came of age, from about 1943 to 1955. This twelve-year period began when he and his family moved across the valley from El Rito and ended when he graduated from Antonito’s high school and went into the army. In Antonito, a relatively rigid ...

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CHAPTER 6: ANASTACIO TAYLOR

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pp. 118-135

Joe Taylor’s father, Anastacio, and the protagonist of Alex and the Hobo, Alex Martínez, have a lot in common: they both recognized and stood up to corruption. Joe’s father was a central force in defining his moral vision. When Joe Taylor was the same age as Alex, he learned a great deal about his father while spending time in Anastacio’s ...

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CHAPTER 7: BEATRIZ MONDRAG

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pp. 136-148

In recalling his early childhood, Joe Taylor revealed how his mother as well as his father laid the foundation of the strong moral vision that appears in Alex and the Hobo. However, he remembered his mother as being very different from his father: she showed her children more affection; she taught her children strong religious beliefs; she saved ...

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CHAPTER 8: WOMEN IN PERIL

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pp. 149-161

Joe Taylor links the fate of his culture to the fate of women. He described how his culture, like his moral vision, depends on churchgoing women like Beatriz Mondrag

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CHAPTER 9: CONCLUSION

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pp. 162-166

Alex Mart

APPENDIX: Juana’s Witchcraft Testimony

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pp. 167-175

Notes

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pp. 177-187

Bibliography

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pp. 189-198

Index

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pp. 199-206


E-ISBN-13: 9780292797857
E-ISBN-10: 0292797850
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292781795
Print-ISBN-10: 0292781792

Page Count: 222
Illustrations: 10 b&w illus., 1 map
Publication Year: 2003

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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- Colorado -- Antonito -- Biography.
  • Mexican American authors -- Biography.
  • Taylor, José Inez, 1937-.
  • Mexican American children -- Fiction.
  • Tramps -- Fiction.
  • Taylor, José Inez, 1937- -- Settings.
  • Political activists -- Colorado -- Antonito -- Biography.
  • Labor movement -- Colorado -- Antonito -- History -- 20th century.
  • Mexican Americans -- Ethnic identity.
  • Antonito (Colo.) -- Biography.
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