Author Archives: chr66

The Squatter and The Don Chapter XX-Conclusion

In reading the last half of The Squatter and The Don, I noticed repeated mention of corruption, greed, abuse of power, and violent acts committed onto one another. This concluding half, filled with suspense and action, concludes gloomily as it expresses the deep-seated fault of the American government; legislature and elite economic interest are undoubtedly intertwined.

The suspense of the latter half of the book begins with the violent argument of Mr. Darrell and Don Mariano. As Gasbang, Mathews, and Hughes tell Mr. Darrell about the “shady” business dealings between Clarence and the Don, Mr. Darrell wholeheartedly believes that Don Mariano required Clarence to pay for Mercedes’s love. Rash decisions are made and the confrontation of Mr. Darrell and the Don tells of a societal imbalance of power at this moment in history. Mr. Darrell cracks the whip, aiming to injure the Don. Though this moment is out of rage and a simple communication error, I believe there is a deeper message. The Don, wealthy and a legal land-owner, should be more “powerful” than the squatter, Darrell. However, in this instance, the whip represents societal power being exercised by a white man over a Hispanic man. This strongly related to the squatter laws, which aimed to disproportionately discriminate against Mexican-American families. It’s comfortable to think that in the eyes of the law, all people are equal. However, law and society are not colourblind and in 19th century San Diego, on the Alamar Rancho, this inequality is enacted upon as a white man asserts his dominance, like his ancestors before him.

As this book is full of heinous acts coming to fruition, it continues as the squatters Gasbang and Hogsden with the help of corrupt lawyer, Roper, pursue the house of the recently deceased Mr. Mechlin. This utter disregard for a grieving family and desire to reprimand the home of a dead man is disheartening and shows the reader the wickedness of humans. Roper is the epitome of corruption, greed, and egocentricity as he boasts that he “has the Court in [his] pocket”. Ruiz de Burton displays Roper as an utterly horrible human being but warns that humanity could soon be (if not already) infested with these abhorrent minds. If a society is filled with these sorts of people, there is no telling what that could do to say… The legal system of a nation.

Finally, The Squatter and the Don demonstrates how government carries the fate of its citizens in its hands and how a corrupt government can ruin the well-being of the vast majority. As the Don and friends meet with Governor Stanford to discuss the Texas Pacific Railroad, they are confronted with the same corruption and greed we have seen before. However, this selfishness has damning consequences because the simple actions of governors, congressmen, and lawmakers can build up or tear down a nation. Ruiz de Burton, through Governor Stanford, shows that greed can hurt people on a very personal scale, but giving these self-serving individuals the power of an office can harm the very fabric that holds society together. The greased pockets and egoistic mind of Governor Stanford saw “grass grow over” the plans of the Texas Pacific, depriving countless souls of a promised future. The evils that plague our world are unsettling, disturbing, and often frightening. However, as a nation, united by our values, beliefs, and morality, and strengthened by literary works like The Squatter and the Don, we must prohibit these selfish souls from attaining a position to inflict generational trauma through laws and political policy.

-Curtis HR

The Squatter and The Don Chapter I-XX

In reading the first twenty chapters of The Squatter and the Don, I was confronted with two reoccurring themes. One was of an “us vs them” ideology, even within specific ethnic groups which escalated as the book progressed, and the second was the idea of love and friendship in spite of being of seemingly distinct backgrounds.

The divisive and often destructive mindset of “us vs them” begins early in the book, as Mr. and Mrs. Darrell are arguing over the morality of squatter laws, which we will see is a tremendously important issue. This continues as the squatters, while discussing their “lawful appropriation” of Don Mariano’s land, speak poorly about him, saying he has been lazily handling his land title, and that “Spaniards will never be businessmen”. These beliefs are said to normalize and endorse squatter laws, which in fact, are argued to be discriminatory themselves. The squatters, directed by vague and misleading law, believe land to be unsettled until proved good, which sponsors the appropriation of rich land in California predominantly held by families of Mexican decent. I found it interesting that in spite of the hardships faced by the Don because of haphazard laws, women do not have suffrage (as found in Chapter XIII). It’s upsetting that, even though The Squatter and the Don is a call to action for fixing biased laws, it glosses over that half of the population has quite literally no voice in legal society.

Despite the constant reaffirmation of in-group/out-group thinking, themes of both friendship and romance shine through the cracks of San Diego’s discriminatory beliefs and practices. In the first couple of chapters, we learn that the Don does not view squatters in an unsavoury way, but understands that they are simply “victims of a wrong legislation”. Furthermore, the generous Don offers to donate cattle to each squatter family in exchange for them to build fences around their property. The Don is amiable to all people, regardless of previous behaviour, and soon befriends Clarence, the son of Mr. Darrell. This proves that even though the inequalities of class and ethnicity yearn to divide, the power of companionship speaks louder than societal difference. Further supporting this is the romance of Clarence and Mercedes, whose profound love for one another sees Clarence abandon his home of San Diego (all be it for a short time) to be with his “Mercita”. These interactions, as insignificant as they may seem, demolish societal restrictions imposed on the divided people of 19th century America. It’s in Ruiz de Burton’s novel that we see these small relationships have cascading effects on simpatía y compasión irregardless of ethnic or political difference.

-Curtis, SPAN 322

Introduction to Spanish 322

Hello!

I’m Curtis and this is my blog. In this blog, I will be giving my interpretation on certain books that delve into the lives and history of Latino and Chicano people. Anyway, enough about that, I’ll tell you a little bit about myself.

I’m a first year university student at UBC, going in for a major of psychology (specializing in clinical psychology) and a minor in Spanish. I have lived in Surrey, BC for all of my life, so living on campus in Vancouver isn’t really that drastic of a change for me.

Sports have always been a huge part of my life and I have learned so many things from being not only a player, but a referee as well. I played softball and ball hockey all throughout my life until I was about 12 when I started to begin umpiring softball. Since those formative days, I have developed so many personal skills and have been chosen to officiate many prestigious events. One of those events, the Women’s Masters World Championship in Tokyo, Japan is in 2021, and I am very eager to travel the globe.

I hope shed some light on the upcoming Spanish texts before me, and give some new insight on the lives of Latino and Chicano people. Thanks for reading, I’m excited to see where this year takes me.

-Curtis