The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family

The Children of Sánchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family

Oscar Lewis

Language: English

Pages: 479


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A pioneering work from a visionary anthropologist, The Children of Sanchez is hailed around the world as a watershed achievement in the study of poverty--a uniquely intimate investigation, as poignant today as when it was first published.

It is the epic story of the Sánchez family, told entirely by its members--Jesus, the 50-year-old patriarch, and his four adult children--as their lives unfold in the Mexico City slum they call home. Weaving together their extraordinary personal narratives, Oscar Lewis creates a sympathetic but ultimately tragic portrait that is at once harrowing and humane, mystifying and moving.

An invaluable document, full of verve and pathos, The Children of Sanchez reads like the best of fiction, with the added impact that it is all, undeniably, true.

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except that they made me realize he was thinking of me. In short, he won me over and I began to feel a friendly affection toward him. He would tell me his love problems and I told him mine. When he invited me to the movies, I expected him to make love to me, but he didn’t do anything and I came to believe he was different from the others. I was delighted because I could go out whenever I wanted to without being afraid of getting involved with him. I felt sympathy for him and nothing more. I

in slumlike housing settlements known as vecindades where they suffer from a chronic water shortage and lacking elementary sanitary facilities. Usually, vecindades consist of one or more rows of single-story dwellings with one or two rooms, facing a common courtyard. The dwellings are constructed of cement, brick, or adobe and form a well-defined unit that has some of the characteristics of a small community. The size and types of the vecindades vary enormously. Some consist of only a few

be a father. I looked at him as though he was some strange person. Being so young, I lacked experience. One doesn’t feel love right away, but my children always gave me pleasure. But at that time, we lived in misery. I earned only eighty centavos a day, and it didn’t go far. Naturally, when Lenore was having a baby, she couldn’t work and without her ten or twelve pesos a day, we lacked everything. She usually helped with the house expenses. After Manuel, there was another boy who died in a few

anything to eat, and of course she came into our house because the children’s grandma sold cake trimmings there, a basket a day, see? So she came into the house to buy and she saw how our house was, and she liked it. It all happened quickly. She had an argument with her husband; they weren’t legally married. You know, she was really a very pretty woman and hot as a furnace. She had a good shape, the girl was very well built and a fellow gets hot, he wants to have her, eh? Well, the thing was

slept in the other bed. Manuel and I usually slept on the floor outside in the little kitchen, but sometimes we also slept in the bedroom. In the morning, I always got up when my papá did, and I would heat his orange-leaf tea and give him a little bread with it, before he went off to work. Then I would go into the bedroom to light the veladora, the votive candle for the Virgin. Antonia would wake up and say, “Oh, what a pest you are.” “Ah, come on, get up you loafers … it’s late,” I’d say. “No,

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