Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Across a Hundred Mountains, Reyna Grande demonstrates how crossing to America offers immigrants a new start, a better lifestyle, and more opportunities to grow and succeed, idealizing the American Dream. This idealization of the American Dream profoundly changes family relationships in several ways: it creates physical and emotional barriers and brings families both closer and distant from each other while changing family perceptions of family values and traditions.
The border between the United States and Mexico is not just a border but a wall. Referred to as ‘el otro lado,’ or the other side, the border divides families forever as seen in this novel. Juana’s father left 2 years before Juana decided to leave Mexico in search of him. Not knowing where her father is creating a barrier in their relationship. Although her father left and they had not heard from him, Juana felt an even closer connection with him, knowing that her father took this risk to provide a better life for his family. “Apa’s friend wrote about riches unheard of, streets that never end, and buildings that nearly reach the sky. He wrote that there’s so much money to be made, and so much food to eat, people there don’t know what hunger is.” (pg. 27) Juana’s father had this vivid image in his head about the American Dream that not even his family was going to stop him from achieving this goal. He believed that by going to America and getting a job he would be capable of providing a better home for his family. He and his family knew how hard it would be for him to take such a journey but it didn’t overpower the outcome he believed would come from traveling to the other side. At home, they were emotionally and physically torn from Miguel and had this barrier up, not knowing where he was.
The relationship between Juana and her mother changed within the course of her father’s leaving. Her mother lost a sense of who she was and began making decisions that tore her and Juana’s relationship apart. Juana began to feel as if she couldn’t talk to her mother about things and her mother never wanted Juana to be near her or receive any help from her daughter since she felt so ashamed. There were emotional barriers put up between the two of them because Juana couldn’t come to an understanding as to why her mother was making such decisions. Things they used to do before her father left, such as comb each other’s hair and spend quality time with each other talking, all stopped once her mother decided to let Don Ernesto take advantage of her. Their mother-daughter relationship was ruined when Miguel left to provide a better life for them.
The process of crossing the border illegally is very long and dangerous, Miguel’s decision of doing so brought his family closer yet more distant at the same time. Juana’s father is so far and they are unaware of where he is driving them to feel so distant from him but knowing the reason why left they felt a deeper connection with him. He took a risk for them and for that they were appreciative but it caused both Juana and her mother to make decisions for themselves that they would never feel comfortable talking to anyone about. They believed they had to make these decisions to stay alive while waiting to hear from Miguel. The distance between Juana and her father gives her desperate to know where he is, causing her to leave her city and take the same journey her father made to try and find him. The connection with her father got stronger even when he was further away from her. Juana’s relationship with her mother fell apart, also driving her to leave and find her father.
Juana’s mother becomes embarrassed of herself, leaving Juana disappointed. There are so many decisions Juana’s mother made making Juana feel distant from her mother. Juana feels she doesn’t know who her mother is anymore, she doesn’t pray at their altar anymore, she drinks herself to sleep, she’s taken advantage of, and she becomes mentally unstable. With Miguel leaving his family, people started rumors about Juana’s family causing Juana’s mother even more depression, she didn’t know whether to believe them or not. She lost a sense of who she was and how to act. When you undergo such tragic events in your life, your mind tends to take over and you begin to lose your sanity. Juana couldn’t trust her mother at this point and she tried her best to keep her mom safe but didn’t know what else to do for her.
Through the course of this novel, you can see the family values and traditions changing drastically. Many events happened to cause Juana, her mo, there, and the family dynamic to shift. For example, Juana’s mother lost her sanity after her husband left for America leading her to give up what she strongly believed in God. she stopped praying and did such actions that no catholic would ever do. The thought of her husband leaving to live the American Dream made her feel more comfortable knowing he left to provide a better life for them, no matter how long it would take. She made decisions in her life that gave people the wrong idea, making Juana feel embarrassed knowing the way people looked at her and her family.
To try and save her family Juana’s mother was taken advantage of by Don Elias, thinking it would stop him from taking her family and everything else she had away. She had no idea what the outcome of it would be and did not realize how much damage it could make to her life. She didn’t know it was going to lead her to have a baby and then get it taken away from her. After the baby was taken from her, her life went downhill. She began drinking so much to the point where Juana would find her in some street sleeping in her vomit unaware of her surroundings. Before Miguel left, you wouldn’t have ever seen Juana’s mother even go to bed without praying at their altar, she was the most religious woman that respects not only others as well as herself. In the course of this novel, Juanas mother ́s values had changed so much, that she let them separate her connection with her daughter.
In conclusion. This novel has changed my perspective on immigration, poverty, and how the American Dream is portrayed. As we read along we realize how much America is idealized and how naive people are about actually living here in the United States. Its believed to be a land where you come to and receive everything you dream of. There’s a lot of competition here and it is very difficult to make a living here. I enjoyed reading this text, it brought attention to a very controversial topic in society today. As I was reading, I learned new things while being entertained by the story of Reyna Grande. This book demonstrates the real-life struggles of an immigrant living in poverty through their perspective, not what the law or media tells us. I would recommend this book to someone else because I think it’s very important to be educated on the world you live in, especially if you aren’t exposed to something like this in your day-to-day life. Knowing what happens to these people can change the way you view this tragic experience people have to go through to try and stay alive.