The short story “Sanchez,” written by Richard Dokey, is a story about
Juan Sanchez and his family. “Sanchez” is told in many different settings,
which are all unique and represent various feelings that Dokey portrays to
his readers. The settings are described realistically; they affect Juan and
Jesus in personal ways. The settings vary from a small village in Mexico to
the Sierra Nevada in California.
At first the story is set in Stockton in the San Joaquin Valley. Jesus,
Juan’s son, got his first job in a cannery called Flotill. Stockton is shown
to be a working town where Juan had lived before. To Jesus, Stockton is his
future and his hopes are large enough to shield him from the “skid row”
section of town. Jesus was to live in a cheap hotel while he worked in the
cannery. The hotel was described as stained, soiled, and smelly (151).
Jesus is proud of his room and his job, but Juan only sees them as
disappointing. Stockton, for Juan, brings back memories of hard work and
time away from his wife, La Belleza. La Belleza was the prime focus of
Juan’s life and if he was away from her, he definitely wasn’t happy; this is
why Juan has bad feelings for Stockton. From the hotel, we, as readers, are
taken through the town of Stockton. There are torn buildings and rubble all
over the place. A “warm and dirty” pool hall was Jesus’ “entertainment”
(152). This smoky pool hall was recreation for Jesus but Juan only seemed to
be disgusted. To Jesus the pool hall was a place to relax while he wasn’t
working in the cannery. Next, Juan and his son parted because Juan was
feeling tired from the events of the day. Juan got in his car and returned
home to Twin Pines to reflect on his past.
Twin Pines was where Juan and his wife had lived for about six years, but
the home wasn’t the same now that La Belleza was dead. La Belleza had died
due to complications when Jesus was born. His wife’s death completely
changed him. Twin Pines was where Juan and his wife had longed to live for
many years. The neighborhood and his new house had been well deserved. He
had to struggle for a long time in Mexico to save enough money to move to the
mountains. Juan had lived his whole life in Mexico before moving. Mexico,
to Juan was a “hard land. It took the life of his father and mother before
he was twelve and the life of his aunt, with whom he then lived, before he
was sixteen”(154). This inspired Juan to get away from the village and
eventually, he did. Mexico and its hardships were now in Juan’s past
representing his struggle to have a better place for his wife. Juan had
saved enough money to leave the “death” of Mexico and head for his dreams of
the Mountains. Jackson, a town along the road to Twin Pines, was where “the
road turned and began an immediate, constant climb upward” (156). This, to
me, represents a major change in Juan’s life. Juan’s dream finally was
turning into what he wanted. The climbing road symbolized Juan’s dream
slowly becoming a reality.
When Juan saw the cabin close up, he knew the man had stolen their money. It
was small, the roof slanted to one side, the door would not close evenly.
The cabin was gradually falling downhill. But it was theirs and he could,
with work repair it. Hurriedly they drove back to Jackson, rented a truck,
bought some cheap furniture and hauled it back to the cabin. When they moved
in, Juan bought forth a bottle of whiskey and for the first time in his life
he proceeded to get truly drunk. (157)
Even though Juan admitted, “the man had stolen their money,” he doesn’t seem
to mind because, in my opinion, it was probably the best day of his entire
life. This is the only time that Dokey mentions the “stolen money”. Juan
was completely content with his new home. This is shown through Juan’s
desire to “get truly drunk . . . for the first time in his life” (157). He
just wanted to celebrate his newly achieved dream.
Later Juan learned of his wife’s pregnancy, which was said to be impossible,
because Juan had himself tied due to La Belleza’s passage being “oversmall”
but it was happening. Juan knew that this child would most likely cause La
Belleza’s death and sure enough, it did. The cemetery and her burial spot
where he buried her were given a unique description: “in the red earth . . .
beyond the cabin. On this day the pines came together overhead and in the
heat of the midday a shadow sprinkled with spires of light lay upon the
ground so that the earth was clean to smell” (159). I see this as she was
being welcomed into the earth. The trees covered her resting spot making it
suitable for her to stay there forever. The spires of light are Juan’s once
bright and fulfilled life diminishing to mere specks. “Now she would be
always in the Sierra Nevada . . . and all that he ever was or could be was
with her” (159).
La Belleza’s death had destroyed Juan. His only reason for living was to
help Jesus become a man. Once Jesus did become a man, Juan burned down his
house and “had simply gone home” (160).