The Rain God (pg 113-156) & Padilla

By Lauren Carabetta & Sorlyz Pagán

Latino masculinity is a socially constructed phenomenon. Latino men are supposed be aggressive, dominant, and the patriarch. By examining gender roles, you can see who fits and who does not fit in the stereotype in The Rain God.

Masculine Beauty

Felix looked for young, attractive men in bars.

He would give his employees physical examinations for no charge

– He would be suggestive during the examinations and some men reacted favorably whereas, others left quickly.

– His employees gave him the nickname “Jefe Joto”

– He cared about his employees and helped them get their green cards

Latino culture believes that males who take the “active role”, or “the giver”, in sex with other males are considered heterosexuals (Munoz-Laboy & Yon Leau, 2010). The passive male is considered homosexual

–       Active = Giver

–       Passive = Receiver

European sexual system is based on biological sex of person (Padilla, p 27)

Importance of cultural context (Padilla, p 22)

It is important to understand the differences between masculine roles in different cultures. In the United States, whether you are the giver or receiver, you are still considered gay.


Pg 116 “as he grew older that admiration, instead of diminishing as he had expected, had become an obsession for which he sought remedy in simple and careless ways”

Pg 117 “loved young people and did not understand why his son did not see that”

Pg 118 “my beautiful son, don’t look like that It will wrinkle your face like a prune and your eyes will harden and break my heart”

Pg 122 “his protective feelings for the child perplexed and disoriented him because they seemed stronger than his desire for his wife”

Discussion Questions:

How do you think that Miguel Grande would react to Felix’s choice of words for describing his son?

What does “masculine beauty” mean?

Could this be an example of Padilla’s idea that Islas indirectly labels Felix as gay? Why or why not?

Felix’s Family

Married his wife Angie who is a dark-skinned Mexican

Felix’s family looks down on her because of her complexion

He and Angie love their children unconditionally

– Convinced wealthy woman to teach her daughter piano when they could no longer afford it

– They let JoEl sleep in their bed to comfort him when he had nightmares

Angie loved him even though they were not intimate anymore. She admired how Felix loved his children



Pg 119-120: mock the mother for her heavy Spanish accent when she speaks English, the other speak fine


142: “I speak it with an accent, so you must not imitate me. I will teach you how to speak Spanish properly for the family occasions” Mama Chona ‘“a truly educated person,’ Mama Chona told them, ‘speaks more than one language fluently.’”

Pg 124 “and they also teach them to be ashamed of where they come from”
 (relationship with schools)

Pg 125 ”Angie understood that they were patriotic North American songs and praised and kissed her children even if she did not like the music”

Canessa (2008) “the main issue described is the sexual desirability of white and western women as opposed to the sexually undesirability of the indigenous women”

Felix’s Murdered:

Felix is brutally murdered by a homophobic soldier after coming on to him.

Later, JoEl has a breakdown and wishes to tell his father he love

A theme in The Rain God

ž“Explore the problem of a certain brand of masculinity and its manifestation in the family, an institution central to Chicana/o culture” (Padilla, pg. 24)


Muñoz-Laboy, M, and C Yon-Leau. “Boundaries and Bisexuality.” Latina/o Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies. (2010): 243-252.

Islas, A. P. The Rain God. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1984. Print.

Padilla, Y. “Felix beyond the Closet Sexuality, Masculinity, and Relations of Power in Arturo Islas’s The Rain God.” Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies. 34.2 (2009): 20-33.

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