The start of the twentieth century saw a great influx of immigrants coming from around the world entering the United States in hopes of capturing the American dream. A group of immigrants entering the country were Mexicans, who like other newcomers had the same goal. America offered the goal and promise of economic opportunity, liberty, and personal freedom. During the early twentieth century, Mexico was in the midst of a civil war its inhabitants sought to flee the violence and seek for stability and employment. The Progressive Era introduced some new concepts that a Mexican family could now face in America in regards to America’s new consumer freedom and wage structure. While new immigrants often saw low pay and hash working conditions, the status of this family saw them overcome these barriers. Manuel Gamio wrote a journal concerning the endeavors of a particular Mexican-American family, the Santella Family.
This account which was written in 1926 was obtained by the author conversing with them and observing them over a long period of time. The author’s main argument of the work is to show insight into this family and how the events of the progressive era affected them and shaped their life. He summarizes the family structure, putting emphasis on the children and commenting on their life in the United States. The author simply gives details surrounding this family, he leaves it to the reader to draw his own conclusions. He does not try to analyze the situation; his goal is to give underlying comments with the information that he is giving.
The Santella family is a wealthy family who own several pieces of property in Mexico. They move to the United States at the expense of the Mexican revolution.
They start by residing in San Antonio, Texas in a comfortable home. Manuel Gamio then goes on to provide an interesting piece of information, ‘’After five years of residence in San Antonio all the members of the family talked English and had conformed to the American customs with the exception of the father and the mother.’’
Here, we see an immigrant family adapting to life in the United States in order to be better suited for society with the exception of the parents. One could say this is due to the parents having no obligation to adapt, they feel it is unnecessary to change their ways especially seeing how they made the move in the first place for their children.
Towards the end of the report, Gamio recollects more comments and observations that were made by the wife. Among these were how she feels safer and more comfortable than she did in Mexico, however criticizes the customs that young women employ in the country. It isn’t too clear what she is referring too but can say that this is an inference to how more free women are in the United States and were starting to be more independent. On this topic, something that women started to do was hold their own jobs in order to get their own income. The youngest of the daughters did this after quitting school even though her parents were completely against her.
The journal ends with the idea that as a result of this, the youngest daughter is thought to be the most Americanized, due to her free will and eagerness to work and earn money. She then uses this money to purchase not only goods but luxuries like dresses and other clothes with the growing consumer market. This particular Mexican-American family that was ‘’white’’ was without a doubt an outlier. They had great wealth thus had more access to opportunities. They lived in greater circumstances than other immigrants who had to settle with poor wage and dreadful working conditions. This report puts a spotlight on how American offered economic opportunity, liberty and personal freedom.
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