The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972 Page: 117

Book Reviews

even a rudimental knowledge of Anglo folk culture in his own adopted
state, to say nothing of that cultural mother of Anglo-Texans-the
North Texas State University TERRY G. JORDAN
Barrio Boy. By Ernesto Galarza. (Notre Dame: University of Notre
Dame Press, 1971. Pp. 275. Glossary. $7.95.)
Ernesto Galarza's autobiography is a highly readable account of one
boy's acculturation from a tiny mountain village in western Mexico
to the United States. His experiences in adopting the ways of another
culture have been shared by thousands, yet very few have volunteered
their stories.
In this book Galarza, who has written other works on Mexican
Americans, challenges the interpretation that usually emerges from
studies of acculturation. Psychologists, sociologists, and anthropolo-
gists often have described Mexican Americans as "lost" persons, peo-
ple without an identity stranded between two cultures. Denying this
on the basis of his own experiences, Galarza argues that Mexicans
adopt ways of the United States and still retain "an abundance of
self-image," and a good image at that.
Barrio Boy seems to prove his point. The move from the forty-house
village of Jalcocotin to a barrio or ward of Sacramento, California,
was difficult not only because of language differences but also because
of disturbing un-Mexican practices of gringos, such as building fences
which separated neighbors. There was never a question in his mind,
however, as to who he was or what he was doing. He only worried
over how to do it.
School eventually provided Galarza the chance to leave the barrio
and assume some of the more pleasing customs of the United States.
It was also in school, Galarza confides, that he learned the most last-
ing lesson for a future American. His opponent in a third grade class
election won by two votes-Galarza's and his own.
Galarza's book raises two questions. First, is Galarza typical of
Mexican Americans and can other barrio boys follow his example?
Second, will his theory of acculturation apply to second generations
as well as to first? On an emotion-charged topic, Galarza's study helps
to balance the usual "lost identity" interpretation and joins chicanos
in encouraging reevaluation of Mexican Americans.


University of Arizona


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972, periodical, 1972; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.