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4: Jesús Colón (1901-1974)

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    Jesús Colón

    Justin Puppo


    Jesús Colón is a Puerto Rican who has written many pieces about the working class perspective on culture and America. Culture is the biggest part of his writings. He is known for writing about the average working class man and making people see the world through the eyes of the blue-collar workers. Jesús Colón is mainly known for writing “A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches” and “The Two United States”. I will be mainly focusing on “A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches” since I like a few of the sketches within his writings in this piece. There are two specific skits that I will be focusing on in his writings, “The Day My Father Got Lost” and “A Hero in the Junk Truck”.

    First, I will start with “The Day My Father Got Lost” since it comes first in his sketches. I like this sketch because it shows how after moving to America from Puerto Rico, there weren’t many jobs for them and through determination they ended up getting some. It was a routine day, where everyday the same thing repeated. After getting used to the schedule one thing changed and caused chaos in the family. The father was not able to speak English and he got used to landmarks based on looks. When displays in stores changed, the dad was not able to recognize where he was, which made him lose his kids in the city of Harlem. After the kids try and look for him for a bit they eventually give up and go home, which for them is a long journey to travel without an adult. When they eventually get home, the dad shows up not too much later and all's well that ends well. The struggle of the whole family moving to America and having to work immediately is very stressful and because they are also in an unknown environment, it makes it a lot more challenging to support themselves. This was also during World War I, so there was a lot of struggle in the country as well.

    Next is “A Hero in the Junk Truck”. As Jesus and his wife were riding the bus home, they saw a junk truck full of debris from a building being torn down. There was a picture above the drivers cabin of the truck with a man named “Bolivar”. To Jesus and his wife he is seen as the “George Washington to a score of Latin American countries” and because of this him and his wife get off at the next stop and go over to the truck. They talk to the person who seems to not care about who it is and he finally asks if they want the picture. They of course say yes because of the cultural significance of the man. While in this conversation a crowd formed asking who the person was (more out of curiosity than actual interest) and after this dispersed because they got their answer. Since they weren’t allowed to bring this big painting back on the bus they went to one of their friends' places so that they could drive them back. When his friend opened the door he just said “Bolivar” and Jesus and his wife were ecstatic. As we can see here, the history of his Puerto Rican culture is very important to him. This says a lot about how informed people in America are about other cultures because of how they didn’t know of such an important man. To compare someone like this to George Washington and then not have anyone know who it is must have been a heartbreaking experience.

    To conclude, Jesús Colón is a Puerto Rican writer who focuses on the working class perspective in America and how it connects to his culture. His culture is very important to him and because of that he tries to spread information about his culture and why it means so much to him.


    "Sanitation Workers and Garbage Truck," by Seattle Municipal Archives is licensed under CC BY 2.0


    When talking about the framed painting of Bolivar, Colon says “Nobody knew. Nobody seemed to care really. The question was asked more out of curiosity than real interest.”

    Work Cited

    Holton, A. (2013). “Little Things Are Big”: Race and the Politics of Print Community in the Writings of Jesús Colón. MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States, 38(2), 5–18.

    "Jesús Colón." Gale Literature: Contemporary Authors, Gale, 2000. Gale Literature Resource Center, Accessed 7 Nov. 2022.“

    Stavans, Ilan and Edna Acosta-Belén. The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. W.W. Norton & Co, 2011.

    4: Jesús Colón (1901-1974) is shared under a CC BY-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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