4. Arturo Islas’ The Rain God (Part 2)

Islas – The Rain God (Part 2)

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February 12
1. READ: Islas, Arturo. The Rain God, (p. 113 – 156)
2. READ: Yolanda Padilla, “Sexuality, Masculinity, and Relations of Power in The Rain God,” (p. 20 – 33)
3. PRESENTATION: Sorlyz Pagan & Lauren Carabetta

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February 14
1. READ: Islas, Arturo. The Rain God, (p. 159 – 180)
2. Join Course Wiki and Insert Page with tentative term project topic
3. PRESENTATION: Victoria & Emily

Remember that your post MUST relate to the second part of the reading of Islas’ book in order to receive credit. Please make sure to give specific examples from the text to support your reflections (and cite with the corresponding page number). You can also reflect on the reading from the additional texts read and establish connections with Islas’ text.

Possible starting points for discussion:

  • the male body as representative for masculinity (think of Reeser’s Intro to Masculinity)
  • fatherhood and the family as other social constructs
  • sex acts ≠ an identity (basing an entire identity on a sexual act/partner)
  • violence and masculinity
  • gay panic” defense
  • “masculine” professions: police officer, military service, etc. Physical labor vs. intellectual labor
  • the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) vs. the Mirandé Sex Role Inventory (MSRI)
  • role of women in maintaining masculine/feminine roles
  • How does Arturo Islas’ novel destabilize stereotypes of (Mexican-American/Chicano/Latino masculinity ? How does he recreate other fictions of masculinity?
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81 Responses to 4. Arturo Islas’ The Rain God (Part 2)

  1. The Rain God” identifies and encompasses Mexican culture and its gender distinctions. The author creates characters who exemplify the many stereotypes that may be present in Mexican “Chicano” culture. The role performed by each character as a male or female, macho or homosexual, together form the center theme evolving around the story of “The Rain God”. Each character type performs and takes up their expected gender role in society. I truly enjoyed reading this book, I found interesting the fact that Islas would include what may be seen as a controversial issue (homosexuality) in his book. Even though the reader may conclude that Felix is homosexual, at no time do his character states that he is gay.

    In the article assigned this week by Alfredo Miranda, he discusses the evolution of the concept of Hombres y Machos in Latino culture. Being a macho is defined as a strong of masculine pride, or exaggerated action of masculinity, or male-like qualities. Something that we may all agree the character of Felix may lack. In Padilla article, she explores the concept of Felix homosexuality. Despite Felix encounters with his workers , there is no indication that Felix considers himself to be gay, or that he even contemplates that his behavior might bear on how others view him. He thinks of his sexual proclivities as meaningless expressions of his admiration for masculine beauty, expressions “instead of diminishing as he had expected, had become an obsession for which he sought remedy in simple and careless ways” (116). This is not to say that Felix’s homosexual acts go unnoticed; Miguel Grande feels predictably “ashamed and frustrated” by Felix’s behavior and hopes that the taint of his brother’s sexual encounters with other men does not touch him by association (87).Being a macho is not only about the physical strength and the negative stereotypes associated with the term but what I concluded from alfedo article is that Un hombre que es macho hold on to a code of ethics that stresses humility, honor, respect of oneself and others, and courage. Society influences you to act in ways that are not authentic to your true self; you end up swallowing a lot more than you think.

    • Brichelle, you brought up a really good point in that at no point throughout the book did Islas mention that Felix is gay. At first I thought that Islas may have written the book in such a way for the reader to assume that Felix is gay. After some thought, I began to think that one may think that Felix is gay because he didn’t fit into the stereotypes of what a masculine male would fit into (socially constructed).
      This definitely ties into what Edward Ortega had to say about the double standard in the porn industry.

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      i like the point you bring up. some people live a life that others can never point a finger and say if they are gay or not. this we all know. but what if the author chose to have a character whose lifestyle was questionable, not because of lack of information but because the character purposefully did not want to have a label attached. this world we live in will label you quickly. you can be a judge who stands for social justices, yet if the media finds out your sexual preferences, you are no longer viewed as the upstanding, fair judge. you now become the “gay” judge, which has nothing to do with your job performance and brings about a certain denigration.

  2. jayrodriguez13 says:

    When reading the second half of “The Rain God,” I notice how masculinity inadvertently causes Felix to be murdered. What I mean is, that Felix, being technically a closet homosexual, crossed a boundary that “real men” do not dare cross. The book goes into a good amount of detail about how Felix would fulfill his sexual lust, first offering to give illegal Mexican workers physical examinations free of charge (116). The book also stated how he took pleasure in touching these men in this intimate fashion (116). However, from the discussions we’ve had in class, the various activities we’ve done and the theme in the book, this is not how “masculine men” are supposed to act. Felix made the flaw of showing affection, and the even greater flaw of showing affection to other men, a flaw which we now know proved to be fatal.

    When Felix was in that bar, he was in there with the intention of doing what he did to those Mexican workers, more or less, and that is picking up a man (a soldier) and touching him intimately. He even said that he had done it before, and reminisced about how he disarmed them (135). The soldier he picked up that night was the same. Unfortunately, this soldier seemed too be very “macho.” And as we all know, this young soldier from Tennessee is the one who ends Felix’s life. To me, it seems that this soldier let his “masculinity” get the better of him. Namely, the whole aspect that a man should not touch another man nor should he show affection towards another man. The masculine aspect of this book is so strong that it is too the point where Felix is tragically murdered because he loves the feel of another man. I feel as though this is the wrong image of masculinity to send. So far, I have completely disagreed with the portrayal of masculinity in this book. This soldier kicked Felix to death because Felix made him feel uncomfortable (137-38) and because he had to assert his machismo dominance. Truly, this is a misguided view of masculinity.

    • alease810 says:

      I agree that the soldier action was a very misguided view of masculinity. Initially reading the story I did not process the action as being homophobic. My first reaction was that this soldier was perhaps just a very angry and violent person who at the sign of a threat lashed out and took Felix’s life. However I can now see that the behavior was asserting a masculine dominance fueled by a threat to the soldier’s sexuality.

    • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

      I agree the soldire went way overboard, according to our standards. Let us look at the soldiers background. An american soldier back in those days was very homophobic. Secondly, the location of Tennessee would allow one to assume the stereotype that this soldier was a hillbilly. Why Tennessee, why couldnt Islas pick another locale; Massachusetts, a state that symbloizes education? Is there hidden messages that american culture as a whole is stupid and lacking common sense, even though we are richer than Mexico?

    • Edward Ortega says:

      Though Islas’ interpretation of masculinity can be a bit extreme, I perceived Felix’s death a completely different way. It is obvious that the young soldier from Tennessee was used as a literary symbol to represent the dominant culture in America; this includes the concept of hegemonic masculinity. Felix’s death can be perceived as homosexuality being overtly rejected by the dominant culture. Although this is true, I could not help but notice Felix’s relationship with his youngest son, JoEl, as a driving force behind the murder. Throughout the novel, Islas implies that Felix is molesting JoEl; the way Felix holds him in his arms when he is freaking out in the middle of the night, when JoEl’s sister teases him by tickling his back with her fingers and his stoic reaction to physical contact, or even as obvious as their rocky father-son relationship. Despite the tension between JoEl and his father, JoEl was too young to defend himself; his attitude was his only defense mechanism. Felix knew that the soldier was underage, “no more than eighteen,” yet he proceeded to seduce the young soldier (135). I saw Felix’s death as a symbol of his relationship with his son. Felix continued his fantasy with child molestation, and ultimately paid the price with his life, an act that his son JoEl could not perform. In this, JoEl got his ultimate revenge.

      • JessicaRaugitinane says:

        I agree that Felix’s homosexual acts attribute to his portrayal as a child molester. However, now that I know from the presentation that Islas was gay, I’m not sure how Felix as a child molester fits into the overall message of masculinity within the text. The aspect that I am having trouble deciphering is Felix’s death. If, like Eddie said, Felix’s death represents JoEl’s ultimate revenge against molestation, then I feel that the hegemonic view of masculinity wins and overpowers the more feminine masculinity or homosexuality that Islas probably wants to shed a more positive light on since he himself was gay. Also, since child molestation connotes negativity and hatred, then I feel that Felix draws in this negativity and highlights homosexuality as negative as well. Yet, perhaps, Islas uses Felix and his death as a representation for society’s ignorant belief that all gays are in someway molesters or overly sexual, and thus, are unjustly ridiculed or killed within society.

        I guess, I just would have liked to see an openly gay character portrayed in the book as positive, loveable, and an overall good person. I think this would have broken the hegemonic view of gays and allowed for Islas to make a more powerful counterargument against the stereotypical view of homosexuals.

  3. bethanita says:

    Felix does not behave according to the outline of Mexican masculinity, and he never tries to hide who he is. Unlike Miguel Grande, who never showed physical affection toward his son, Felix has always been warm, emotionally and physically, towards his family members. He is closest with his youngest son JoEl. JoEl suffers from nightmares and horrible visions, and Felix used to take care of him. In the middle of the night JoEl would go to his parents’ bed and sleep in between them. Felix would hold him close and soothe his fears. In time Felix’s wife realizes that he does not desire her anymore, and she moves to a different bed. She knows he is a good man and she still loves him.

    Felix’s physical touchiness also goes against Mama Chona’s religious and traditional beliefs; she never touches her family members affectionately, and she believes that the flesh was sinful and people should pretend “those parts” of the body do not exist. Sex outside of marriage is disgusting and improper to her, and for these reasons Felix must surely infuriate her with his lifestyle. Felix does not fit into the family’s image of what he should be (namely a real, masculine man like the one Miguel Grande turned into), nor does he fit into the USA’s image of what he should be (a straight man). In the end, a young soldier ends his life precisely because he outraged the soldier’s sense of propriety; according to the soldier, a man should not behave like that, so he did not think twice about asserting his own masculinity (perhaps to compensate for the uncomfortable, ‘unmanly’ situation he found himself in) to violently destroy Felix and the threat he posed to “what a man should be”.

    Felix, a marginal figure both in terms of his nationality and in terms of his sexual preference, is ignored by the justice system and his case is set aside. The soldier remains free, an enforcer of societal expectations of manhood, while Felix remains un-avenged as a violator of those same expectations.

    • jayrodriguez13 says:

      I agree with you in the sense that Felix was killed because of the “unmanly” situation that he put himself in with the young soldier. I also think that the soldier snapped because he was uncomfortable with his own insecurities in his sexuality. I feel like when the soldier said, “Don’t do that.” (137), the way he said it may have betrayed that he was obviously uncomfortable but perhaps he was quiet because he had insecurities in his own sexuality and didn’t know how to react to it. I know this may seem to be a bit of a stretch, considering lack of evidence, however given that many “macho” men often react out violently when their masculinity is challenged, this idea may not be too far fetched at all.

      • Edward Ortega says:

        I agree Julio. I also believe that the soldier was somewhat curious, maybe even questioning his own sexuality. Islas mentions that the bar that Felix went to was the kind of bar that served people “in search of release or fantasy” where one was able to go back “home refreshed, respectability intact” (114-15). The young soldier may have regretted getting in the car with Felix, but I have no doubt in my mind that he knew what was going on. Although the young soldier told Felix a couple of times that he did not feel comfortable going to the canyon, I do not think that he murdered Felix simply because he was disrespected; I believe that his insecurities with his sexuality played a huge part in Felix’s murder.

      • JessicaRaugitinane says:

        I really like this interpretation that the soldier killed a homosexual man due to his own insecurities of perhaps being gay himself. The whole story only reveals characters who are closeted homosexuals; no one is outwardly described as gay. Thus, I can now see Islas writing this book as a way to release his frustration on how the homosexual community struggles with their own insecurities or internal battles of trying to please themselves and society all at once. However, like I mentioned in my earlier comment, I would have liked to see an “out-of-the-closet” gay character in the book. I think this would have provided readers with counter-hegemonic views of homosexuality and would have empowered readers to ignore their insecurities and accept their sexuality without fear of society’s expectations. This would have created more optimism for the homosexual community’s future rather than simply portray the community as suppressed and destructive.

      • bethanita says:

        I definitely agree with you. I think that if the soldier wasn’t at all interested, he would never have let things get as far as they did. First of all he could have declined Felix’s offer to buy him a drink, and later he did not have to agree to Felix driving him back to the base. Furthermore, there is an implication that the bar they met at had a certain reputation, possibly even being a bar for gay encounters. If the soldier was not at all interested in men, there is some doubt as to why he would even be there. I think he probably liked the idea of involvement with Felix at least on some level, but things began to happen so fast and he was so overwhelmed by his own shame and confusion that he lashed out violently.

    • misharo says:

      I find it a little bit too much the affection Felix shows toward his son. Although he and his brother Miguel Grande couldn’t be anymore opposite, they are both loved in their own ways by their families. Because Felix is not straight, his wife still loves him and knows he is a good man. This is also a theme of masculinity because his wife still obeys him and looks up to him.

      Also, It is very interesting now to see everyone questioning the soldiers sexuality based on one action. I don’t think because the soldier initially went along with the flirtatious actions of Felix that he is interested in him. If we think about our society today, it is somewhat accepted when woman are more “curious” but I don’t think then their sexuality is questioned.

  4. I feel that the second half of the rain god focused on family relationships and the way people deal with those problems, and the effects they have on the family as a whole. The second half starts with the story of how felix died flashing between his death and the events leading up to it. Felix was upset that he had an argument with his youngest son and went to a bar to wind down after a day of work. At the bar Felix attempts to pick up a young man from the military by offering him a ride to base, and tries to hit on the man, who beats him to death when felix touches his thigh.This causes his son JoEl to grow up and become addicted to drugs, and it brings his family shame and they dont want an investigation into his death. This story also show two very different types of men. There is the masculine man who is from the south and is in the military, while being such a homo-phoebe that he beats a man to death for touching him a way he doesn’t like, and then there is FElix who is a closet homosexual who gives men he hires a free physical because he enjoys touching them, but is committed to his family and works at the factory to support them.

    The latter part of the story focuses on the story of Moma Chona slowly dying and the way her family attempted to deal with her slowly losing her memory. Her sons and daughters laugh at the things she say like when she confuses them for someone else as a way to get through, even though they dont truly find it humorous.They try to put up a front of being brave and fine about it, but at the end many break down crying as she finally dies surrounded by them.

  5. Edward Ortega says:

    The idea that sexual acts define a person’s identity is a highly debatable concept. Personally, I believe that sexual activities play a huge role on a person’s character. However, I say that the topic is debatable because this particular concept does not necessarily apply to both sexes due to societal implications. For instance, let us consider the porn industry from an occupational perspective. If a female were to engage in lesbian sexual acts with another female, but claims to be heterosexual, it is easier for a person to view her sexual identity and occupation as two mutually exclusive entities; but if a male were to engage in gay sexual acts with another male, but claims to be heterosexual, it is nearly impossible to separate his sexual identity from his occupation without consciously having to entertain the idea (and even then a person may not still be convinced).

    Why is it that in American society a woman can explore her sexuality without being judged or faced with any sort of social repercussion, but a man who explores his sexuality or engages in same-sex activities is defined and characterized as “the other?” This is one of many reflections of hegemonic masculinity. In Islas “The Rain God,” Felix “embraces patriarchy in his home life, dealing with his wife and children in an often authoritarian manner and conforming to masculinist notions of familial relations” (Padilla 29). Still, Felix has this obsession and admiration for the male body that drives him to engage in sexual acts with other men. By conforming to this idea of hegemonic masculinity, Felix feels no guilt and shows no sign of regret or remorse for engaging in these fantasies.

    To Felix, conforming to society’s gender norms was sort of a way out, where he could fulfill his desires, yet be accepted by his community. Felix did not internalize his sexual cravings and homosexual experiences; to him they were both mutually exclusive.

    • I completely agree with you 100%. I don’t think that it is fair how our society has the double standard where a woman can still be seen as heterosexual even though she is engaging in lesbian sex scenes (porn), while a guy isn’t given the same treatment. This was exactly the case in the last season of the Real World (Las Vegas), where one of the cast members identified himself as straight, but to help pay the bills he had lived in a house where he was filmed performing sexual acts with other males. Finding that new piece of information definitely changed the roommates’ opinion of him.

  6. Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

    The issues that are discussed throughout “The Rain God” are controversial and expose the people in the family for who they really are. An underlying topic that is presented and clearly seen is the issue of masculinity and what a tremendous influence it has on how the men live their lives. Miguel Grande is at the center of the family and this emphasis on “being macho” clearly comes from him and is passed along through his son and relatives. He is a big, “macho” man who values the importance of being the head of the household and being in control over his family. The only mention of him not being in complete control is in his affair with Lola.

    The articles for this week are very closely related to “The Rain God” because of the focus on masculinity and how the Latino image is so focused on it. I was intrigued by the authors explanation of how men and women in the Latino cultures are defined as masculine and feminine based on the Sex Role Inventory and how the focus is on behaviors rather than qualities and traits they possess. He mentions that “men are expected to respond to violations or honor and integrity and this is how gender is externalized because it includes male behavior but also the restrictions of the conduct of women” (Pg 13). This paints the picture of men needing to show their dominance at all times and monitoring what their wives/daughters/women in their lives can and cannot do. The analysis of traditionalism and what is important within the family based on the inventory showed results that comply with what was discussed in class and in our readings because a majority of the items pertain to women’s behavior. I was not surprised by this but I assumed there would be other topics that relate more to “being a man” and “being macho” rather than so much emphasis on controlling women.

  7. Ashton Haga says:

    In the second half of “The Rain God” the author uses several ways to portray what masculinity should be. For example, the author vividly describes Felix’s death (brought on by sexual advances towards a young soldier), and Miguel Grande’s role in caring for his mother. Both of these scenes seem to guide how the reader should think of masculinity. Felix died because the soldier reacted to the lack of masculinity in his actions. Miguel Grande handled his mother like his father would have, controlling and commanding. While both scenes are very different, they both point at hegemonic masculinity.

    I also think that in the case of Felix’s murder, the gay panic defense might have worked. While I do not condone murder or violence of any kind, against any person, Felix often forced himself upon young soldiers. In the book, we find out that Felix uses his professional power to give “examinations” to new employees. These employees recognize that he is gay and most accept the examinations as a means to employment. However, some are negatively affected and do not appreciate Felix’s advances. In addition, the author tells us how Felix frequently drives home young soldiers from the bar and pushes himself on them. In this case, the soldier told Felix “no” repeatedly, both in stopping at the canyon and at being hit on. However, Felix persisted, and the young soldier snapped. While the soldier’s reaction was not appropriate, I believe “gay panic” may be what happened.

    • JessicaRaugitinane says:

      I do agree that the soldier killing Felix can be characterized as gay panic. However like people have mentioned before, I think the soldier put himself in the situation and knew that he was entering into an environment that was “considered an interesting or suspicious place by the townspeople on the ‘American’ side of the river,” suggesting the bar to be a gay bar (114). I don’t think it would be just or fair for the soldier to use “gay panic” in his defense although I do believe that our society and government would accept it as a valid excuse. I find the whole idea of “gay panic” disturbing. The fact that our society is so homophobic and deems that homosexual experiences cause “temporary insanity” is quite absurd. Why can’t “gay panic” simply be classified as self-defense? Why does there have to be a specific title for people defending themselves against a homosexual assaulter?

  8. I think that Miguel Grande and Felix are complete opposites. First, you have Miguel Chico who is the epitome of what the Angel family considered masculine (his job, ability to take control of his family), and then you have Felix who would take advantage of younger men. Another key difference between the two is their relationship with their wives. Miguel Grande seemed to be jealous of his wife’s relationship with their son, one of his excuses for his affair with Lola. Whereas with Felix it was the opposite, Felix would have their son, JoEl, sleep in their bed and would pay more attention to JoEl than he did his wife.
    In the second part of “The Rain God” we are given more insight on Miguel Chico’s uncle, Felix. Here we learn that he started off as a graveyard shift laborer and moved higher up in the factory, a job that required a level of physical strength. As he moved higher up in the factory, we learn that Felix used to take advantage of his position to examine the young men prior to hiring them. On page 116 we start to see that Felix has strong feelings for men when Islas points out “even after losing most of his own hair and the muscles he had developed during his early years on the job, he had not lost his admiration for masculine beauty…had become an obsession for which he sought remedy in simple and careless ways.” Felix uses his power to engage in discrete activities with these young men. I think that this position of power secured Felix’s traditional sense of masculinity and gave him the confidence to participate in such acts. This confidence transferred to his persona at the bar where he would pick young men up. On page 135, Islas describes Felix as a hunter seeking his prey, he liked to seek the “shy type” and weasel his way in. This of course worked until he met the soldier, a boy who was receptive of Felix’s generosity until Felix went too far. Although Felix mentioned that he would never make a man do what he didn’t feel comfortable doing, the soldier definitely exhibited gay panic defense in that he started to punish Felix before he could even stop and get himself together.

    • The soldier in the end did show panic towards Felix, but did not have to kill him. Like you mentioned how Felix would not make a man do something if they are not comfortable, the soldier was clearly aware of what was about to happen and still proceeded with Felix without stopping it. I think the soldier is not a victim but instead the suspect, because if the soldier had said NO before anything went down, Felix’s death wouldn’t have happened.

    • bethanita says:

      I agree that Miguel Grande and Felix are complete opposites. It’s interesting, though, that even though Miguel Grande knows about Felix’s homosexual tendencies and has very specific ideas of what it means to be appropriately masculine (so much so that he would not listen to his own son’s complaints of pain, seeing them only as a sign of weakness), he still loves Felix and feels very close to him. I would not have guessed that a man with Miguel Grande’s idea of masculinity would accept a gay man for what he was, even if he happened to be his own brother. I also think you bring up a good point in highlighting how Felix liked to go for the shy type, because if the soldier had not been one of these quieter young men, he might have been more outspoken about his discomfort instead of lashing out violently and murdering Felix.

  9. JessicaRaugitinane says:

    I find the issue of sex acts equaling or not equaling someone’s identity very interesting. As my group discussed in class, there definitely is a double standard when it comes to sexual acts equaling a person’s identity depending on whether the person is male or female and engaging in heterosexual or homosexual acts. Men participating in homosexual acts are automatically classified as gay. Women participating in homosexual acts can be seen as only experimenting their sexuality or having fun. On the other hand, men participating in heterosexual acts with many different women are seen as having fun or doing what men do. Whereas, if females engage in heterosexual acts with many different men they are classified as sluts, whores, or dirty.

    In Part 2 of “The Rain God”, we see Felix’s engaging in homosexual acts as equaling his identity as a gay man. We are introduced to Felix as a man who “had not lost his admiration for masculine beauty” and someone who took advantage of his power position to fondle men during his examinations (116). Then we encounter Felix’s deep love for his son, JoEl. Felix soothes JoEl from his nightmares by “cradling JoEl on his side of the bed” while gaining a stronger desire for his son than for his wife (122). Automatically, we associate Felix’s cradling as sexual since we have already been introduced to Felix as a man who engages in homosexual acts. However, if we first encountered Felix soothing his son from his nightmares without any previous hints that Felix was gay, I’m sure we would only see the cradling of his son as fatherly and loving rather than sexual or erotic. This idea demonstrates how society uses a man’s sexuality as a way to determine his masculinity. Unfortunately, a man’s sexual acts equals his identity. If there is any notion that a male engages in homosexual acts then that man is automatically classified as gay in society without any possible way of escaping that image.

    • Elise316 says:

      Its a good point you bring up about how our perception of Felix’s behavior is skewed based on the introduction we were given on him. You’re right that his behavior towards JoEl would seem nurturing if entirely separated from prior descriptions of his sexual interactions/behaviors. I also never thought about it, before our class discussion, but its true that women can get away with ‘just trying’ homosexual behavior while men are automatically labeled for doing so. Its hard to know which is more offensive; that a women’s sexuality is that easily dismissed or that a man’s is rigidly assigned.

  10. The second part to this book really focused on Felix and his double life. He had his wife and kids, yet felt the need to cheat on his wife with other men. It was clear that he loved his wife, but that he was attracted to men. All of this in the end led to his death, but does not justify. He shouldn’t have died that way, but also shouldn’t have cheated although it made him happy. It difficult to be in someone’s shoes that way, but looking at it from the outside Felix should have left his wife and not put her through what she went through. Even though in Hispanic households the man of the house is looked up as the “MAN of the house” not the ” husband who cheats on his wife and leave her for a MAN” its weird if you hear of a husband leaving his wife for a MAN and not a WOMAN. As ironic as this may sound, it is more acceptable of the MAN of the house leaves his wife for a WOMAN instead of a MAN, because it leaves a bad reputation on his wife and family, I guess that is why they kept Felix’s life a secret for so long.

    I use to work for NineWest, and one day a man walked in looking for shoes. He did not appear to look Gay or anything of that sort, instead he appeared very professional and as if he had just gotten out of work looking to buy shoes for his wife. I approached him and started small talk ,asked what size he was looking for and he answered with the number 12. I was shocked, because no woman has ever asked for a size 12 in a long time, so I then asked him what was his wife/girlfriend’s taste in shoes, and he said the shoes were for him. At that moment I couldn’t help but ask him, do you wear woman’s shoes? He then opened up and said that he was a dad and a husband, he had kids and was happily married for many years with his wife. He said that at night he would live a secret life, his wife had no idea that he would dress up as a woman with his friends. He lived this double life, at night as a woman and during the day as a husband and father. After many visits , I asked him if he was Gay or transsexual, he said NO, but that he just enjoyed what he did. My experience was really interesting because it reminded me of the second part of this book.

    • bethanita says:

      I agree that standing in Felix’s shoes it is hard to decide what would have been the right thing to do; Felix is a complex character. I think you’re right that the family kept Felix’s secret partly to defend their own reputation. I also think, though, that they were genuinely happy as a family (even if Felix’s wife wished to have a sexual relationship with him, she did love and accept him the way he was), and probably none of them would have wanted Felix to leave the house. Still, your point about a man leaving his wife for another man is very interesting. I have a friend whose father actually did just that, and after the divorce she seemed more bitter about the fact that her father was cheating with a MAN than about the fact that her father was CHEATING at all. It didn’t even seem to occur to her that her father was probably struggling with a lot of difficult problems; she just felt betrayed that her father would divorce her mother to be with another MAN.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      That incident that happened to you while at work is really interesting. And I agree that it applies to the second part of the book. Both the man you encountered and Felix were living double lives. Yet they were both fathers and husbands at the same time. They did not abandon their family and they did not express their sexuality in the open. Whether it was because they feared it would bring shame on their families or because they simply enjoyed living both lives we cannot tell but we do know that they were able to do both things despite the difference in them.

  11. Gresenia Gil Suarez says:

    The second part of the book mainly focused on Felix and his role as a man. I found it really surprising through this half the attitude Felix had towards his family. Although he never himself announced that he was a Gay man his actions spoke louder then his word. He would try to find ways to engage in sexual behavior with other men. Although he engaged in this type of behavior his role as a father was never placed second. He supported and cared for his wife and children. One thing i found really surprising was the way he engaged with his younger son. In the novel it states how he lost the affection he once had towards his wife, and when it came to bed time his wife would sleep in her daughters room while he cuddled and held his son tight. I feel like thats why his son became in a way very rebelious towards Felix. The fatherly role that he could have expected from his father wasnt really given, instead his father showed affection something a man was not supposed to show to his sons.

    • bethanita says:

      I agree with your idea that Felix’s behavior towards JoEl might have been part of what caused JoEl’s rebellion later on. At a young age, most children don’t really have any consciousness of sexuality or physical contact or what any of those things mean. But as JoEl grew older, he no doubt began to be introduced to concepts of masculinity and homosexuality. Not only did it become unacceptable for a boy of his age to show affection and cuddle with his father, but he may have also been uncomfortable with the idea of his father being gay. Since the book often hints that Felix is a pedophile, JoEl may even have felt uncomfortable with his father’s affection because he felt it went beyond the boundaries of appropriate father-son contact, period. Considering that in all other things the book describes JoEl and Felix as getting along, this is probably exactly the reason why JoEl eventually felt the need to rebel against his father.

  12. Julissa Antigua says:

    The women in Arturo Isla’s book “The Rain God” played a big role in maintaining and passing down masculinity through their families. In John Leguizamo’s Freak, we learned that John’s mother praised John as a little kid. She called him a king as she fed and adored him just for being a boy. In “The Rain God” important women such as Mama Chona encourage masculinity to the young kids as they grew up as well as to the wifes or her children. Although Mama Chona was aware of he son’s infidelity to his wife she still encouraged Juanita to stay Miguel Grande because men will be men , and that is just what men do. Not only did Mama Chona as a woman encouraged this infidelity to continue without consequence, but Juanita complied. Juanita allowed for the affair to continue. She said that she knew what what going on. The only thing that bothered her was that Miguel would bring Lola ( the woman he was having his affair with) into the house with her children.

    Felix’s wife also did something similar, therefore allowing Felix to retain control and do what he pleased. When Joel was scared as a child he would go to his parents’ bed and Felix would comfort him. This continued and eventually Felix’s wife, Angie, steps back and allows the two to have their moment(s). Felix sleeps with his son Joel in the same bed until he was 10. Both Angie and Juanita allow their husbands to do as they please, to have their way with them their children and who ever else they please simply because they are men.

  13. Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

    I believe this author accomplished a goal he either directly or indirectly sought after. The goal is challenging the stereotypical thinking that society has led us to adapt concerning homosexual/ lesbian viewpoints. It seems as though one’s sexual preference overrides all other facets of a person: that now, their sexuality makes up who they are. Gays were always viewed as being on the bottom of the totem pole. Yet in this book, we see the suspected homosexual living a rather successful life. He is educated, lives in a fairly high cost of living area, and he also commands the respect of his family.

    What will it take for society to finally learn not to judge people by their skin color, religious affiliation or sexual preference? Do we need another holocaust, or more race riots and lynchings, or another women’s rights movements?

  14. misharo says:

    This was a great book bringing to light everyday racial, sexuality and identity issues. Everyone has done and outstanding job touching upon these subjects. But Islas leaves the reader with a very open mind and for me personally with so many questions unanswered. I believe he did this on purpose. Islas spends the entire book feeding the readers different views on serious matters but he never tries to force a belief or opinion on his reader. So what is the “Rain God?” Felix is interpreted as the Rain God, he is murdered but he died embracing who he was. It is incredibly sad that the family is ashamed of Felix even in his death and do not seek justice for him because they don’t want their image tainted. My favorite line by Felix is when he was younger and dancing in the rain Mama Chona wanted him to get inside because he might be hit by lightening Felix says; “Good, I’ll die dancing.” The family tries to portray Felix as having the most issues but in relaity he is the happiest of everyone.

    In the end of it all Mama Chona tried her hardest to keep this family together and with good dignity. She was not successful in these attempts. This made me realize, no one can change anyone because of what they think is best. Everyone is different in their own right.
    I think it would be interesting to see how different audiences perceived the messages in this book. I feel for the most part people in our class agreed on most things and this can be for many different reasons. We are living in a common ground and are in this class for different reasons but with underlying commonalities.

    • amyhahm says:

      I really like how you noted the fact that the “Rain God” is interpreted as the Rain god because he died embracing who he was. I think that is of huge importance because he goes against the Latino norms and stereotypes, and stands up for who he is. I believe that it was an important read because it showed how Felix was happiest even when his family looked down upon him and his choices.

  15. Carlos Perez says:

    This section of the Rain God was more about Miguel Grande then it was about Miguel Chico. The fact that Miguel Chico went through the things he went through is a result of the way Miguel Grande was.raised. In our presentation we made it clear that Miguel Grande’s mom had alot to do with not only raising MIguel Grande but exposing the overall theme of the book. She was responsible for many of the problems her son created because she always had big expectations about her son. She even encouraged his wife to remain submissive and adjust to her role as a “women”. The role of Felix was very interesting because Miguel Grande judged him and couldnt come to grips with just loving and accepting his son.

  16. amyhahm says:

    I think the Rain God really emphasized a lot of different struggles and obstacles an individual may go through growing up as a Latino American. The role of Felix really interested me. Felix was a really interesting character who we find out is the “Rain God”. He held a good relationship with Miguel Chico. He was very free-spirited and loving, and didn’t really let any one else’s opinion influence him. I thought that was crucial, especially because of Miguel Grande’s influence on him and his family. Even though Miguel Grande was Felix’s brother, he could not accept Felix for who he was. Miguel Grande had stereotypical, machismo complex while Felix was independent and free spirited. Felix wasn’t ashamed of his sexuality, but Miguel Grande disapproved of it entirely. Just because being a homosexual didn’t fit into the typical Latino male stereotype, Felix was judged and unaccepted. But even through all the difficulty Felix endured, he stayed joyful and happy until the very moment he died. Felix stayed true to himself, and because of that, he lived a happy life. I think that is a very important theme in the book. Just because you do not fit into a certain mold, it should not mean you should not be happy. Accepting yourself is very important and being yourself is just as important.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      I totally agree with you, Felix was a very free spirited soul. He did what made him happy even if others disproved of it. Felix was still a father and a husband, he did his duty but he also lived his own life on the side. I also think that Felix died happy because he was being himself.

  17. franciscotorres01 says:

    So does anyone else think that the Rain God really plays on the stereotypes of Latinos or what we are “supposed” to be like. Grande of course is reincarnation of what machismo is. He is a brute and treats women very poorly. Chico is the educated son trying to get away. The mom is just a heroin because she is the good wife that stays with her terrible husband.

    We also have the basic story of immigration to the United States for a better life. We have a patriarchal system in the family. Its all just expected “norms” in the literature of Latinos. I would love to see a book written in english were the Latino family makes money in their own country and gains power through working together as one. I usually never see a Latino family were there is not a support system and where everyone isnt working to advance the family.

  18. SPRING 2013 POSTS & COMMENTS

  19. The Rain God: Pages 1-110

    Felix’s murder was barbaric and unbearable for me. The way in which he was brutally attacked and beaten was just awful, and I wish I hadn’t had to read it. As bad as I feel for Felix having to had gone through that just because of his sexuality, something about himself that he could not have changed, I feel even worse for Lena. To have her father taken from the world so abruptly and violently, but not having the rest of her family stand up for him and avenge his death. To feel so lonely in the world like that after you lose someone you love must feel awful.

    Poor Lena believed that the only way she could have avenged Felix’s death was if she was a man, saying “I wish I was a man. I’d kill that little son of a B****.” (86) A comment on how Miguel Grande feels about homosexuality is found on the next page, 87, when we learn that touching other men intimately actually disgusted him.

    I think the worst part of this scene is that the young soldier who killed Felix got off on the charges. Apparently brutally murdering someone falls under the pretense of “understandably self-defense.”

    This literally made me sick.

    Moving on….

    A few passages that touched me: (these are not summaries, these are passages that directly speak to gender roles)

    Page 92: Miguel’s “rush of love” for his Tia Nina when he realized why she had come to accompany Juanita and Miguel Grande. She came in order to protect Juanita in case Miguel Grande acted like a fool.

    Page 94: This didn’t so much as touch me as it did disgust me, but I think it is an obvious portrayal of male dominance over females –> Miguel Grande says,

    “I’m the head of this family, and you’re not calling the doctor.”

    (94)
    Of course, this ends in Miguelito being more or less paralyzed for the rest of his life. Miguel Grande is really the worst. I did feel for him at earlier parts of the story, but not he will never get sympathy from me.

    Page 97:

    Because of his father, Miguel Chico would never trust another man to tell him the truth about anything.

    Page 99:

    Juanita wept because she could not understand the forces that drove men. The remained mysterious creatures to her, given either to tyrannizing others or to indulging themselves to distraction at the expense of other.

    Page 99: Juanita is telling Miguel Grande that he needs to decide what he is going to do, implying that it is up to him whether they should get a divorce or not. She is leaving her fate in the hands of a man who was unfaithful and who lied to her for years.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I think that Lena said she wanted to be a man because she associates men with strength and violence. I feel that when people think about violence they picture two men hurting each other, or a man hurting a women. I think Lena may have been exposed to this or always just heard about men hurting other men. This may be what caused her think that she needs to be a man to get revenge or to be violent. In the movies today, many of the violent scenes depict two men fighting each other, causing people to continue associating men with violence.

    • Desiree W. says:

      I like the quotes that Chris has brought up here. Specifically the page 99 quote, its true that in some relationships women tend to get themselves into its hard to tell what is behind a man’s thoughts and movements. Its very common to see women subject themselves to living conditions that they don’t understand why they stick around. I have been a product of that environment when it comes to divorces and I can tell that there are a million and one reason why a woman would stay especially if there are young children involved. It’s hard to deal with and think women don’t often get encouraged to leave situations like this and are forced to just deal or put up with the nonsense until the man is tired. So this scene touched me the most because of my own personal connections.

  20. Amber Jones says:

    I think it is first essential to note Yolanda Padilla’s quote that states the importance of Felix’s character. I think in reading the book it is very easy for some readers to just focus on the idea that Felix was a closeted homosexual who was a husband and father, they fail to realize the bigger picture. The bigger picture is for readers to understand the fluidity of sexuality in a culture that seems to reject it. “
    Islas’s project in The Rain God was not to proclaim a Chicano or gay identity. He said as much in a 1979 letter: “I have no desire to make a case for or against Homo/heterosexuality. I want to show how far away we are from loving, or at least how far away the narrator because of what he has been taught is ‘masculine’ is from loving in any context.”4 As he indicates, he examines how power dynamics are shaped and expressed through interrelated markers of identity, such as masculinity, sexuality, and, I would add, ethnicity. This becomes especially clear through Felix, a contradictory character who resists familiar identity-based narratives (Padilla 14).
    We see early on in the book these set structures of masculinity. Miguel Grande reinforces notions of how a man should be to his son, but we see as the book progresses that his outlook on masculinity is actually destroyed by one of his own family members (Felix). Miguel Grande expresses just how Felix’s way of life affected him, “ The thought of touching another man in those ways disgusted him, and his knowledge that Felix enjoyed doing such things had created a barrier between them that neither ever made the effort to overcome” ( Islas 87). For someone so close to Miguel to commit such a crime against masculinity hurt him and caused immense confusion. I believe that Miguel Grande did not know how to feel towards the crime; he was upset and disgusted that Felix did such a thing but he also felt a sense of anger that anyone would commit such a brutal and inhumane crime.
    Furthermore I would have to agree with Padilla’s statement that Felix’s story is more than just about the institute of masculinity it rather deals with power as well; “I give a reading of Felix’s expressions of sexuality that sets aside questions of identity, focusing instead on the insecurities, power dynamics, and motives that animate and complicate his manipulation of relations of power” (Padilla 15). In reading this I realized that Felix’s death destroyed the outlook on masculinity which therefore destroyed the power that accompanied it. His death showed that all the facets that are within masculinity can be broken. Although this crime humiliated the family, “the evidence convincingly showed that her father was in fact. “excuse me ma’am” a homosexual and that he had seduced other men. Some of whom were willing to testify during a jury trial” (Islas 87) it proved that men do not always fit neatly into one box.

    • Amber’s point of sexual and gender fluidity is an important one. We put so much stock into regulating sexuality in terms of black and white, gay and straight. The reality of sexuality is much more vast and complex than that: sexuality lies on a spectrum, and off of it. It is everything between “Gay” ad “straight” and then everything that can possibly lie outside of it. Felix is no exception to this roll. Neither is Juanita and Miguel Grande’s relationship. There are many types of relationship styles, and the heralded “monogamy” isn’t the end all be all, even when it comes to the marriage between a man and a woman. Juanita obviously was still willing to stay with Miguel even though she knew very well that he had sexual relationships outside of marriage.

    • Romy Garcia says:

      Amber makes a good point here, just as we discussed in class this past Tuesday during my presentation; Felix’s death was easily justified. A murder we would consider cruel, uncalled for, and unjustifiable was quickly turned into an act of self-defense in the court of law. Some of us argued that it was because the “criminal” was a soldier; a person who is looked as the epidemy of masculinity. Another classmate mentioned that this could be a case of the soldier dealing with personal queer identity but couldn’t bring himself to actually going through with it. If we go back and think about the book one may pick up that justice wasn’t actually served to this soldier because Felix’s family was too embarrassed to fight for it. Like Amber mentioned in her blog, Miguel Grande was disgusted at the thought of his brother touching another man and even “the attorney thought it useless to subject the family to the shame and embarrassment of such an investigation. The young soldier had acted in ‘self-defense and understandably,’ given the circumstances, and there was no reason to prosecute him” (87)

  21. The Rain God: Pages 110-180

    The two major of archetypes of masculinity in the rest of the novel are the characters of Miguel Grande and Felix.
    Miguel Grande, Felix’s brother, is arguably the most masculine-acting character in the entire novel. However, his demeanor completely collapses at his grave understanding that his brother, Felix, has died. We see him revert to a child-like figure (guarding the paper bag with Felix’s sweater) which really works to shift his entire character from hyper-masculine to one that is rather sentimental and tender.

    According to Padilla, Felix cannot be reduced

    “to a particular sex role or gender category” (Padilla, 26).

    This is to say that Felix’s actions towards his family and to those who he works with/causally meets at bars effectively deteriorates the boundaries that are set by stringent sexual and gender identities.

    We see Felix’s masculinity in action at home, where he is loved unconditionally (JoEl’s attitudes aside) and at work, with his power and authority over the men that he oversees from Mexico. A rather less tender flavor of Felix’s masculinity is witnessed when we see him beating the obstinant JoEl with his belt and the coerciveness that he extends to the men who he hires.

    Padilla does something interesting with her essay. Padilla rationalizes that Islas’s work is not at all about analyzing individuals based on their stereotyped identities, but based on how their actions as individuals affect their lives and the people closest to them. So her aim in detailing Felix wasn’t to label him as a gay man, but to show how his masculinity is derived from his most innate urges and natural reactions to his environments.

    • emilyvanburen2013 says:

      Chris, I really enjoyed reading your take on Padilla’s essay in connection with The Rain God. Especially the last paragraph where you explain through Padilla that masculinity is “derived from the most innate urges and natural reactions to our environments.” I would definitely agree that many times our ideas of masculinity stem from natural male urges or reactions men have to objects/events/people. In Felix’s case his natural (and in particular sexual) urges were directed toward young men. I like the statement pulled from Padilla’s article about Felix not fitting into a particular sex role or gender category. Felix most definitely does not fit into one certain category or type of sex role. He is a middle aged Latino man whom is married with kids and has casual affairs with random men. Felix’s character which deviates from the “norm” is part of what makes The Rain God such an interesting and flavorful book that keeps the readers reading.

    • Desiree W. says:

      Chris connected the Rain God and Padilla’s essay well, the Rain God may be a made up story but the interactions between the characters are very real to life. I can clearly see how Padilla can point out that stereotypes being a social construct of that person’s behavior. This is true of most stereotypes found, there is always some truth or known observation made that can then be generalized to make it fit the form of “All guy/girls do this…” These observations made can be the reason why you have men and women “trapped in the closet” or “on the down-low” about their sexuality. All because they know a social construct or something that goes against the norm and they think to hide it to avoid the negative vibes and act against the “known facts.”

  22. Sabryne Vidal says:

    After reading part 2 of The Rain God, I sure did get a different perspective on the concept of fatherhood, specifically referring to the relationship that Felix shares with his son JoEl. In comparing the characteristics that both Miguel Grande and his brother Felix personify as fathers to both their sons JoEl and Miguel Chico- there are significant differences in how they each portray their masculine prototypes in fatherhood. In Part 1, the novel focuses on the relationship between Miguel Grande and Miguel Chico which depicts a very masculine approach to fatherhood where a boy shouldn’t cry when scared but remain strong. However, there is a discrepancy between brothers where one displays a strict, forceful and judgmental discourse and the other expresses a softer, much gentler and accepting side of parenting. Unlike Miguel Grande, Felix allows JoEl to cry when fearful and doesn’t attempt to deprive his son of any kind of emotion; he is rather comforting. In the following quote, “when his son’s dreams were very bad In other words,Felix learned not to ask him about them. Instead he allowed JoEl to weep away his terror while he and Angie took turns rocking him” (Islas 121). Basically, I think that in terms of fatherhood, Felix has broken the mold of gender roles where he too can show affection towards his own child and demonstrate that it’s okay to display emotion even if it falls out of what is typical boy behavior.

    Also, it is very common for mothers to grow increasingly attached to their children when very young, even to the point of prioritizing motherhood over marriage. However, Felix’s wife Angie is not the one forming the secure attachment with JoEl, nor is she the one distancing herself from Felix’s side throughout JoEl’s nightmares. It turns out to be the other way around with Felix taking on the role of the preoccupied mother. It is Felix who stays by JoEl’s side in bed to provide him with a sense of protection throughout his frightening dreams. In the following quote, it clearly depicts Felix’s protective nature- “..he would wake during the night cradling JoEl on his side of the bed. His protective feelings for the child perplexed and disoriented him because they seemed stronger than his desire for his wife” (Islas 122). In this way, Felix is also portraying very distinct gender roles where the typical male role would express indifference and rigidness whereas Felix is very comfortable expressing maternal qualities such as when he offers a sense of protection, care and comfort to his son despite having to leave his wife behind- all for the sake of his child. I think that a typical macho move would be to make his son conquer his fears, for him to able to spend more time with his wife in bed alone. However, Felix does not do that- this is yet another way in which he defies the gender roles placed upon him as man, husband and father; thus being another way that he differs from his brother Miguel Grande. I just thought that these were good examples of how one is able to defy the stereotypes assigned to their gender and that Felix’s character does a profound job at personifying this change in roles.
    ~Sabryne Vidal 2/10/2013

  23. Brittany Demers says:

    I just cannot stand that fact that Juanita stayed with Miguel Grande even after he admitted to cheating on her with Lola. When Lola and Miguel Grande were having their secrete relationship, Miguel Grande did not always hide his feeling and some things that he said/did were typical masculine traits. For example when Lola was dancing with a man that was a good dancer at a party, Miguel Grande got jealous and said “All good dancers are queer and you know it” (Islas 70). In class we discussed how many times people think of the arts (dancing, singing, and acting) as feminine. In this case, I think that Miguel Grande is jealous of the other man and he has to take a stab at his masculinity to make himself feel better. Lola also stands up to Miguel Grande by saying “I don’t kiss anybody’s ass, Miguel. And I can do any-thing I want to. We’re not married, remember?” (70). I did not expect this to happen because the women in this book have mostly obeyed men, and did not stand up to them. This filled Miguel Grande with rage and the thought of murder even crossed his mind. I feel that Miguel Grande wanted Lola to apologize for dancing with another guy. Later in the evening Miguel Grande exerts force on her and tries to control her in a sexual way. I think he does this because he can’t seem to control her any other way. It is clear the Miguel Grande thinks that being a man or being masculine involves controlling women.
    I was surprised to find out that Miguel Grande cried after the death of his brother Felix. I feel that everyone around him would not judge him for crying after having to see his brother in that condition, but he still waited until he got into the bathroom to start crying. Miguel Grande also did not look in the mirror like he couldn’t stand that fact that he was crying. I don’t think that men should be ashamed about expressing emotion. I feel that since Miguel Grande was crying he also had to get revenge on the man who killed his brother and threaten violence toward him. I also thought it was interesting when Lena said “I wish I was a man,” (Islas 86) because she wanted to act violent towards the man that killed her father. I feel that she was implying that only men can be violent. Or was she implying that only a man would be strong enough to kill her father’s murderer? The death of Felix was very sad, but at the same time it caused so much anger for Miguel Grande and Lena.

    • I agree with you, it made me so angry that Juanita would stay with Miguel Grande after having an affair with her best friend. Based on the way that she handled the situation, it almost seems as though she accepted it because she considered it to be somewhat “normal”, and that the only logical thing she could do was forgive him, because otherwise her family would be seen as dysfunctional and she would end up alone.

    • Amber Jones says:

      I fully agree with you that Miguel Grande tried to control Lola by sexual force. The only way for him to assert himself as a man was to be forceful and controlling. He was surely taken aback by Lola’s actions and blatant disrespect towards him as a man by dancing with another man in front of him. Since he is so use to being the only who makes the decisions and controls the atmosphere he in a way does not know how to deal with Lola. She is so different from Juanita that it puts him in a hard spot. In an odd way I kind of believe that Miguel finds Lola as a challenge to get her to obey and be submissive like women should be in his opinion.

  24. Imaani Cain says:

    –I feel like Miguel Grande also displays his masculinity through his disinterest towards Miguel Chico. Men are taught not to show emotions and/or affection (and to teach their sons to be the same way and therefore ’embrace’ manhood), and so Miguel Chico views his father as not liking him, although Juanita protests otherwise. In comparison, Felix seems to have a warm relationship with both his young employees and his son JoEl.
    –However, I wondered if Felix’s treatment of his workers counted as being homoerotic or if it was just misinterpreted as such. Felix is said to have “not lost his admiration for masculine beauty”, but he also performed the tests to ensure that he would be able to have them employed fr a longer length of time. The men themselves don’t reject the tests, but Felix seems to be torn. He wants to take care of them and seems to enjoy admiring them, but also seems to resent being thought of as a homosexual and/or effeminate man (like when they joke about the “phases of the moon” and Felix angrily calls the worker a wetback). Because of this, I was a little surprised when Felix was described as seducing men at the bar, but was able to see (as Padilla mentioned) that “Felix is neither a “positive image” of Chicano subjectivity nor a figure of oppositional gay pride”. Felix is, in fact, a good representation of a ‘human’ character; he is neither wholly one thing or the other.
    –Mama Chona’s treatment of her children really angered me. I know that she was distraught after the death of her son, but I don’t understand how she could be so cold towards her offspring. I think Jesus Maria was extraordinarily brave for standing up to her and realizing that her mother would never approve of her and that she has to let her need for her mother’s approval go.

    • Becky Taylor says:

      The example of Felix’s status as “jefe joto,” as he is referred to by his subordinates, is a good example of the multiple identities occupied by Felix as a character. Padilla expands on this by analyzing the term itself: “The name is an oxymoron; one cannot be a jefe, or boss, and a joto simultaneously. Through this label, the laborers brilliantly capture the uneven and circuitous power dynamics expressed through Felix” (26). This example demonstrates the complex nature of Felix, who is a classic Islas Latino character who cannot be analyzed by simple means.

  25. Lauren Carabetta says:

    I found the character Felix very interesting to read about in this section. I wanted to know more about his man and why he was brutally murdered. This section of The Rain God presented the character of Felix in a way that highlighted many roles and aspects that shaped his life and his murder. I liked how Felix was a contrast to Miguel because he was shown as nurturing and openly loving his children whereas Miguel was shown to be cold and did not express emotion the way Felix did. Felix’s masculinity in the home was not questioned when he fulfilled his roles of father, husband, and authority figure at work (Padilla, 29). Felix’s nurturance towards his son was something he saw as a desire to protect and love his son (Islas, 122). I don’t think that a father nurturing and loving his son makes him any less masculine. I think that a parent’s love for a child is something that should be praised, not labeled as something negative in terms of masculinity. I liked that Felix was expressive and loving.

    The scene that explained how Felix was murdered was disturbing. I think the soldier should have said he was uncomfortable and rejected Felix’s advances without beating him to death. Felix was exploring relationships with men because he admired masculine beauty (116). I don’t think he defined his sexuality in any specific category because he admired men and he admired his wife and children too. He didn’t make his sexuality exclusive and he was comfortable acting however made him happy. I thought it was sad that his son spiraled into a breakdown after his father was murdered and that he wanted to see him to tell him he loved him and that he loved him the way he was.

    Another part that stood out to me was how much the older generation valued that their children learned to speak English and that they learned to speak it well, not with an accent like Mama Chona (142). She wanted them to learn English and she would teach them “how to speak Spanish properly for the family occasions” (142). I thought the best part of Mama Chona’s quote was when she said, “A truly education person speaks more than one language fluently” (142). I agree with her statement and think that language is an important part of life and that someone shouldn’t have to choose one language over another. Why not speak multiple languages?

    • emilyvanburen2013 says:

      Lauren, I agree with the statement you made in the first paragraph regarding Felix’s nurturing tendencies and how this makes him feminine. Emotionality and men don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Unfortunately in our society men are truly looked down upon when they are affectionate, tolerant, and caring.

      I think you are completely right, labels and negative connotations shouldn’t be placed upon men who are caring towards others, especially their children. Within the last one-hundred years I think our culture and our ideas about masculinity have gradually shifted towards more accepting and gender neutral ones. However the world we live in is still highly judgmental and critical of the behaviors we portray, because in our culture our behaviors explain our identities. We have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go!

    • When I read The Rain God I had the same thoughts concerning Felix’s role as a father. Although he may be very loving and nurturing I do not find that at all feminine. If anything I respected him more for his love for his children. It’s sad that many males are taught to have a disconnected relationship with their children and end up passing on those qualities to their sons. What I find even more disturbing is that nobody really seems to notice the gender inequalities in this book. Everybody seems to accept it and treat it as if it were the way things should be.

  26. emilyvanburen2013 says:

    In the second half of The Rain God, the reader is able to understand concepts of fatherhood through the eyes of Felix, Miguel Grande’s brother. Fatherhood is not a stationary concept. Ideas of fatherhood vary from culture to culture and many times even within cultures. The author states several times that Felix loves his children and is especially fond of his youngest son JoEl. In one part of the book the author explains how Felix becomes enamored with JoEl as a young boy and ends up sleeping with him every night. “As the three of them slept more often together, Felix lost his passion for Angie, and he would wake during the night cradling JoEl on his side of the bed (Islas, 122). Through this quote we are able to see that Felix is having feelings for his son that he is surprised by. Now with this being said, it is difficult for me to label Felix as a “bad” parent because in a different part of the book the author explains how on Christmas mornings Felix makes a special breakfast and only lets JoEl watch him. Felix clearly loves and cares for all of his children, however he engages in strange behaviors for a parent of four children. When he tries to meet up with young soldiers at various bars and attempts to have some sort of sexual affair with them, he is violating his marriage with Angie and is selfishly spending time away from his children and putting himself in harms way, which ultimately ends in his death.
    When I think about the kind of father Felix is to his children I think of him in comparison to this brother Miguel Grande. Miguel Grande has an affair with his wife’s best friend Lola. He lies to Juanita for a long period of time, and after a while when she comes to understand his affair and asks him to stop he still continues to have an affair with Lola regardless of Juanita’s deep despair. Miguel Grande’s lack of care for his family’s feelings has affected both Juanita and his son Mickey. Mickey is not close with his father at all and relies mostly on his mother for parenting. “It was clear to both mother and son that Miguel Grande at his most brutal could not break into their intricately woven web of feeling for each other (Islas, 94). Through this quote it is clear to the reader that mother and son have a close connection from dealing with the wrath of Miguel Grande. In comparing these two men’s parenting skills it is difficult to tell who is a better parent due to the fact that they both lack good parenting skills. Clearly being a parent, and in particular a father is a difficult and trying task. Both of these men are limited in how they are able to parent either due to genetics, their childhood upbringings or how ideas of masculinity influence them.

    • Becky Taylor says:

      I’d like to juxtapose your post with a quote from the Padilla article that supports your framing of masculinity in The Rain God: “The Rain God, however, points to the emphasis on masculinity as one of the most serious threats to familial harmony and to Chicana/o culture. Thus, the crisis of Chicano life becomes the crisis of masculinity … the crisis manifests itself not as the emasculation of the Chicano male but as the fetishization of masculinity” (24). This quote, as well as your analysis of Felix as a father, shifts the focus of problems of masculinity from the threat of emasculation to the harmful nature of masculine stereotypes themselves.

  27. I think it is safe to say that Felix and Miguel Grande are the two characters meant to portray the opposing sides of masculinity in “The Rain God”. Miguel Grande is a stereotypical man who abides by the rules society lays out for him. He is unable to show emotion in public and his rage cannot often be contained. Miguel Grande outwardly ignored Miguel Chico because men are not supposed to show emotion, therefore he will not show emotion towards Miguel Chico. Because of this, Miguel Chico is led to believe that his father dislikes him despite his mothers promise that it is not true.

    In contrast, Miguel Grande’s brother, Felix, is a very nurturing father who outwardly expressed his love for JoEl. He often allowed his son to cry when he needed to express his emotion and didn’t make him hold back. I find it interesting that the only male character not fully adhering to masculine stereotypes is homosexual. Loving and caring for your son does not make a father feminine in the least. I believe if anything it makes you more of a man to care for your children.

    The death of Felix was unbearable for me to read about. I find it absolutely disgusting that he would be beaten to death for making advances on other men. What was even more shocking to me was that the murderer was not convicted for his actions and that the judge actually agreed with him. If this case had happened today the murderer would have justly be punished for his actions. I couldn’t help but to feel remorse for Felix throughout the entire reading.

    • I agree with your comment completely. The circumstances of Felix’s death was most definitely difficult to read about. It seems inhuman not only that someone could do something so horrifying, but that he could do it without any consequences.

    • Sabryne Vidal says:

      I completely agree with what you’re saying about Miguel Grande and Felix representing two opposing sides of masculinity. It’s like Miguel is portraying the macho who considers emotion to be a sign of weakness and usually attributed to feminine traits. But then we see Felix, who doesn’t mind expressing affection or emotion to his family. Rather than perceiving these two feminine-like qualities as weaknesses, Felix turns each into two strengths that he has as husband and father to his wife and children. However, I was puzzled when Felix was implied to be a homosexual- I don’t think it’s necessary for someone to have to be gay in order to express these characteristics. I just didn’t appreciate the connection made: Felix is a very comforting father, he must be gay- he could just be a good father who loves his children. I just think this kind of promotes the idea of masculinity, which is basically what Miguel Grande embodies unlike Felix who personifies basically everything that falls out of masculinity, and who must be gay because of the fact.
      ~Sabryne Vidal 2/12/2013

  28. Felix character is one that represents what men in this particular culture shouldn`t be. He is a homosexual man that has a family, but doesn`t openly admit his sexuality. What I find most interesting in this is his style of fathering verses Miguel Grande. Is it only okay to allow your children to express their emotions if you`re homosexual? Another ideas that stands out to me is Felix relationship with JoEL. He often slept with his son and it almost seems like Felix is more affectionate to his son than his own wife. This relationship isn`t seen as appropriate in his culture but there are cultures where this is seen as normal. Why do we question things that we don`t know much about or things that we may not do ourselves?

    Felix`s death was a horrifying event. It is a clear example of how men in some cultures are so afraid of being “turned out” to the point that they feel like they have to fight for their masculinity. When you look at the extent to which Felix was beaten, this wasn`t just solely because he hit on a man. It was because in this society homosexual men are looked down upon and seen as weak and inhumane. However, Felix was still a great father in comparison to Miguel Grande in most peoples eyes. He showed attention to his children`s needs and that is one of the most important roles of fatherhood.

    There is also a high demand for people in our society to be able to group people and identify which group they belong to. It is hard for us to allow one thing to be done in many different ways. Just like there isn`t one definition of masculinity there isn`t one correct way to parent your child. I think we get so caught up with judging the individual that we don`t take into the account what they actually may be doing. Although Felix may have been living another life, he still was a good father regardless of his sexuality. This is so important because people tend to ignore the bigger picture when raising children.

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I agree that society often tries to group people. I am not sure why we feel like we need to put everyone in a box when not everyone fits in a box. I also like what you said about how there isn’t one correct way to parent children. There are many different ways to parent and who is to say one way is better than another? It is sad that everyone seems to dismiss and forget about Felix’s life and how he was a great father and son and did many good things in his life. They only focus on the “shame” and the small portion of his life that they didn’t approve of. I don’t think they should forget all the other aspects of Felix’s life and personality.

  29. I think Padillas reflection of The Rain God provides very good insight into the mind of Islas as a Latino author, and does a good job explaining his decisions in regards to his book, as well as his reactions to critiques about his book. “Islas goes on to argue that Chicano writers were influenced both by the focus on individual consciousness that was the hallmark of Anglo American literature and by the prominent Latin American idea that the self should always be seen “in relation to and as an indissoluble part of society.” (Padilla, 12) The last part of this passage stuck out to me the most because it seems as though this is a reoccurring theme. In one part of The Rain God.

    Miguel Grande gets angry and judgmental towards his brother Felix because of his relationships with other males, and he asks Felix how he could do such a thing without thinking about how it would affect his family. It is obvious that masculinity is an essential quality among Latino men in society, and because Miguel Grande is the “ideal” representation of a man, he expects the same out of the rest of his male family members so that they do not reflect poorly on him. Therefore, he scolds the “feminine” actions of his brother and son, and similarly, makes derogatory and discriminatory comments in regards to homosexuality in order to emphasize his belief that the homosexual or metrosexual lifestyle is unacceptable not only in his own family, but also society in general.

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I think Miguel Grande is a bit of a hypocrite in criticizing Felix for having relationships outside of his marriage. Miguel has affairs just like Felix does, except Miguel’s affairs are with women and Felix’s affairs are with men. I wonder if Miguel would condone Felix’s affairs if they were affairs with women. I think Miguel believes Felix will bring shame to his family for his affairs with men. But Miguel does not think his affair with Lola will bring shame to his family because social norms accept men who have affairs with women.

    • Jesse Drinks says:

      I agree with the both of you. Miguel Grande has no right in being mad as his brother’s actions. He has been unfaithful with multiple women. I also believe that Miguel Grande sees Felix’s actions at shameful but what he is doing is just as bad. This reminds me of the discussion we had in class about how the soldier killed Felix in self-defense because Felix came onto him. If a woman comes onto a man and he doesn’t like it he doesn’t have the right to kill her so why is it different for a man hitting on a man? Miguel Grande and Felix were both being unfaithful to their families but Miguel Grande has a problem with Felix because he is after men. This is an issue and Miguel Grande is in the wrong for being angry at Felix.

  30. Nelson Veras says:

    Its very interesting how Miguel Grande and Felix are brothers yet are almost completely opposites of each other. Miguel Grande is the ideal “masculine” man in the Hispanic culture while Felix is not. The Spanish culture does not accept gay men as openly as the American culture does which is why Miguel is always taking low blows at gay men. For example, when Lola was dancing with another man he said, “All good dancers are queer and you know it” (Islas 70). Since he wasn’t a great dancer he protected his masculinity by bashing good dancers and associating them all with being gay. As a reader you begin to realize more and more how obssesed Grande is with being a man or even activities associated with men and strictly men.
    I was very surprise when reading that Miguel Grande cried when Felix passed away. Grande believed men shouldn’t show emotion, maybe that being a reasoning he pushed his son away when he tried comforting him while in pain. Because of actions like this is why Miguel Chico doesn’t believe his father loves him. JoEl didn’t worry about that with Felix because Felix always showed affection towards his son so his JoEl knew his dad was there for him. Miguel Grande is almost being caught up in being a “man” rather than a “father” which explains his relationship with his son. Felix was a family man and knew how to be a dad, which explains his relationship with his son. These relationships are completely different from each other, just like Felix and Miguel were as people.

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      It is really evident while reading that Miguel Grande in fact is really obsessed with and stuck onto masculinty, being a man. It was also confusing, not only too see him cry when Felix deceased, but also witness how emotional he got when it comes to Lola. On the one side, he is very macho about his life, not showing any emotions and being a player. But on the soft side, he felt hurt, jealous and it showed when Lola danced with other men. Miguel is accustomed to being controlling over women. In his eyes, woman are his subordinates, follow his every command, and he felt that Lola was threating that control that he perceives to possess. However, his attractions towards Lola has him confused and emotional about his machismo, and what his heart truly feels. In his case, it is a lose- lose situation.

  31. Ernie Abreu says:

    I would like to continue the discussion about the last topic that we discussed in class, the topic about the infidelity between Miguel Grande and Lola and compare that to Juanita’s extra marital affairs. In Miguel Grande’s case, he is engaged in an affair with Lola while being married to Juanita and having a family. In a masculine world, having multiple sex partners automatically puts you in a high, god like pedestal. To other men, managing to have mulitple sex partners makes you honorable, a talented player at the get women in bed game, and perceived to have the highest level of masculinity possible. Whereas, in Juanita’s case, a married woman that has the audacity to perform affairs out of marriage is considered frowned upon, so society perceives. Woman with families and married shouldn’t be focused on such affair, rather give her undivided attention to her family, husband and household.

    This relates back to the reading because, although Juanita had extra marital affairs, she still came back to her family, her household and continued to be obedient to her husband Miguel Grande. However, I feel that she didn’t have a choice because it is viewed even worse for a woman who have a family, becomes a deadbeat than a man who becomes a deadbeat. Woman have been stereotyped to be the shield of the family, the ones who take all the pain and has no say in anythings, and takes the pain without questions. Lola is an example of how machismo couldn’t control her and how her character developed towards Grande machismo. What do you guys think?

    • Imaani Cain says:

      I think it really goes back to the Madonna and Whore literary trope wherein women in literature are only ever perceived as such (or come as variations of it). Juanita is obedient and submissive to her husband, and so becomes the Madonna in her martyrdom, as did Mama Chona. On the other hand, Lola–despite being strong-willed and completely unwilling to deal with Miguel Grande’s male posturing, is still only depicted as being the “other woman”. There’s little to no development of her outside of her sexual relationship with Miguel Grande.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I agree that in society men are put on a pedestal for having sex with many women. I think that this was not true for Miguel Grande’s case. I feel that he was let off hook and excused from his affair because he was a man. I also felt like Nina was really mad a Miguel Grande for having the affair, when she first found out she said fascinated and disgusted. This is only one persons feelings though. I wonder what friends of Miguel Grande would say about his affair. I feel that since Juanita stayed with Miguel Grande even after she found out about him cheating made him feel like he didn’t do anything wrong that that he could make things right again easily.

  32. Becky Taylor says:

    The second half of Arturo Islas’s The Rain God continued to portray the complexities of each character. What was striking to me was the different masculinities embodied by Felix and his son JoEl, which were demonstrated by the ways in which the two men interacted with each other. Early on, Felix is established as a queer character with an appreciation for “masculine beauty,” and his son’s masculinity is also questionable because of his fragile mental health and artistic sensibilities. Felix uses violence in order to rein in his son, who often challenged his authority within the home. An intimate moment of Felix’s reflection on his son’s mind is revealed after JoEl begins to have traumatic nightmares. The vivid nature of these nightmares, along with JoEl’s general artistic nature, hurts Felix, whose “heart broke with the knowledge that his son was a poet” (123).
    Verbal and physical clashes between the father and son reveal the gendered tensions that permeate their relationship. Felix’s wife, Angie, has an important insight when she suggests that the conflicts between the two arise because they are so similar. In addition to this, the effect of American culture on JoEl distances him from his father, according to Angie: “she attributed his distance to the ideas he was learning from the younger Anglo teachers” (124). The differing brands of masculinity exhibited by Felix and JoEl reflect Islas’s desire to portray the complexity and diversity of Latino men, allowing gendered tensions to play out between family members in ways that feel genuine.

  33. I believe Felix was murdered mainly because of his masculinity. Felix is mainly very close-minded when it comes to his own sexuality. We may perceive that Felix is not acting out how a true Mexican “man” is suppose to behave, although he may of been in the closet about his sexuality he wasn’t as discreet as other characters in the story would have been. Miguel Grande is completely the opposite of Felix; he never showed emotions because that’s not what a man should do. This book is wrapped around images of what a true man should act or be like. Although the reader, writer and characters don’t truly know what being masculine is. This image of masculinity has changed over time. Not only has it changed but also we as a society have helped mold and shape both men and women images of masculinity and femininity.

    The reason why society has changed so much is because we put an emphasis on supermodels and a person’s appearance rather then how smart they are or how men and women are really the same rather then completely different. When we think about it men have to have an outlet for their emotions. If they continue to keep things bottled up inside they will never have a stress reliever. Also we put such an emphasis on if someone is gay, straight or bi. We have that need to know inside us when truly it shouldn’t matter. Not only are people judged if an individual is gay or not but also in the Army, “don’t ask don’t tell”. Society doesn’t look at the fact that a person is risking their life in order to protect their country they have to hide the fact that they are gay, or lesbian. We shouldn’t put such an emphasis on what we believe people should act, dress, or their sexuality.

  34. Jesse Drinks says:

    One thing that I found interesting is how Miguel Grande’s women allow him to take on the role of a player even though he eventually can’t handle it. Lola and Juanita play into the stereotype of women being weak and dependent on men. They allow him to go back and forth between the two of them and eventually they make him choose. Even the women having Miguel Grande choose who he wanted to be with still seems to make me feel like he’s still playing them. No matter whom he chooses he is still in a way winning. Before the affair with Lola, Miguel Grande was being unfaithful to Juanita and to my knowledge she knows that this is going on. Instead of confronting him she lets its slide and eat away at her. While reading I was constantly waiting for her to snap but when she is eventually fed up with the situation she gives her husband the option to stay with her or leave her. I find this surprising because in most situations like that the relationship would be over.

    Throughout the book Miguel Grande is fighting to hold onto his masculinity. At his brothers funeral he has trouble holding in his emotions and eventually retreats to the bathroom to cry. He constantly sees women other than his wife and eventually begins to fall for Lola. Over time he cannot handle having the two women and it begins to wear on him. He begins to show express emotion to Miguel Chico asking him for advise on what to do. I find this interesting because he always scolded Miguel Chico for acting in feminine ways and eventually opens up to him. You can tell Miguel Grande’s trying to hold onto his masculinity here because of Miguel Chico’s confusion during this interaction. Miguel Chico had no idea what to tell his father. Throughout his life Miguel Grande disliked him because he didn’t act very masculine (94). Now his father was acting him to be delicate and affectionate.

  35. Romy Garcia says:

    The second part to this book focused on Felix, Miguel Grande, and the way women in their lives. Felix was a man that had a wife and kids and after some time fell out of love with his wife and began to feel an attraction for men. Felix was never afraid to express his feelings and although he never actually admitted to being homosexual his actions spoke so heavily that his wife was the first to understand where he was coming from and when she realized that he no longer loved her she moved in a different bedroom. While Felix didn’t fit the typical Mexican masculine role he was always sure to play a good fatherly role. In this portion of the reading Felix is killed by a soldier who he tried to make a move on.

    In this part of the reading Miguel Grande and Juanita were celebrating their 25th Anniversary, but at the time of time of their anniversary Miguel Grande had already been cheating on Juanita with her very own best friend, Lola. Although Juanita’s other friends had suspicions of Miguel Grande having an affair, Juanita remained loyal to her friend and husband. Juanita allowed her husband to do as he pleased as long as he returned to her and looked after their family.

    Mama Chona, was a very religious woman who tried to maintain her family’s integrity, but even a woman of such morals bend the rules for her loved ones. For example she knew that her son was being unfaithful to his wife and she still encouraged Juanita to stay Miguel Grande because in her words “men will be men”. This is also a great example of how women (especially mothers) play a huge role in the teaching of masculinity. Even Juanita and Angie allowing there husband to go out and clearly cheat on them is considered feeding into the masculine ways, because again :men will be men, and that’s just what they will do”.

    • Ernie Abreu says:

      You bring an interesting point that women encourage masculinity. Juanita and Angie along with Mama Chona are prime examples of women that encourage masculine behaviors. A key characteristic of masculine behavior is doing whatever a man desires because the man of the house is in complete control of the family. So characters like Miguel Grande and Felix do practice these behaviors by cheating on their wives and still having complete control of their family. Juanita and Angie secretly encourage their husbands behaviors by allowing them to continue their actions and receiving with open arms. This is reinforcing Grande’s and Felix action as an acceptable behavior therefore they continue to behave in this manner. Women play a role on masculinity and at times, they view masculinity as normal, “men will be men”.

  36. sorlyz says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed class and the conversation held in class. We discussed the word “beautiful” and how it is not a term used to describe a man. The discussion became heated and everyone had something to contribute. When Felix calls his son beautiful, it was a strange reaction because people are not used to men being called “beautiful”. What struck me after my partner and I had presented was sparked by how people were saying, “the sunset is beautiful” or “that car is beautiful” but it is not okay for a man to be beautiful. This may be a bit controversial but I hope someone responds: Are women considered “beautiful” because they were once described as objects? It may be safe to assume that the word ‘beautiful’ doesn’t really have a feminine trait. I would love to read what others in class have to say.

    In the presentation Lauren and I created, I was hoping to spark up more conversation with the ideas of the “Jefe Joto”. We found it interesting that the Joto or the passive role is considered to be gay whereas, the Jefe or the aggressor is not gay. I learned this in my Latino Sexualities course and it was strange that in our society we believe that both parties are gay not just one and not the other. In Latin America and other cultures only the passive role is faced with discrimination and cruel treatment.

    • I think it`s interesting to think about the word beauty as sort of objectifying women. Sometimes we as a society become so conditioned to certain things that we forget what some of our actions may actually mean. I`m not saying that whenever a women is called beautiful someone is objectifying her, but when a word is only seen to be ok to refer to objects and women it can be seen as an issue. Men “can`t” be called beautiful, why is that? In addition to this idea men can be called handsome but people don`t call objects handsome. However, there may be many different reasons for why this is true but it is very interesting to think about.

  37. Felix does not fulfill the traditional Mexican masculinity, nor does he try obscuring this. Felix has more “feminine” traits such us being nurturing to his family. He has a special connection with Joel. He understands his son’s fears and he does what he can to make sure that he feels safe. This is quite different than Miguel Grande’s behavior, which is more stern and less nurturing. Felix is also very affectionate which is not normally considered very manly. He runs into issues because Mama chona believes that his way of living is sinful. As a Family Studies major I can tell that Felix does not follow his families theme, causing incongruence in the family. His actions and behavior do not conform to the traditional ideas of what a man is supposed to be like, not just in the Latino culture but American culture as well.
    However it what interesting that in class we focused on the word “beautiful” and how it’s an adjective used to describe women or things perceived to be female. Personally I believe that the term is unisex, yet it can only be used to describe positive, non-physical attributes a man may have. Unlike with women and can be used for both internal and external traits. It was considered to be awkward\shocking to refer to ones son as beautiful, as Felix did. I do not think he did this because he believed his son feminine traits, but because that is how he chose to express himself. Of course maybe his wording is probably due to his underlying desires for men, but at the end of the day, given the time period, what makes a good man, is one who is a good father first. That is what maters, and Felix did this.

  38. John Wilkinson says:

    One of the things I found most interesting about The Rain God, was the complication of Felix’s advances on other men. These complications lay in the relationship between his job, his masculinity, and the naturally sympathetic response to the beating he receives. Beginning with his job at the factory, Felix has become a shift foreman, a managerial position of power over the factory laborers. Further, in attempting to gain them citizenship and access to the United States and its promises, he has become a “coyote,” an animal that is a natural predator. And it is the term predator that describes Felix’s advances upon other men. Using the power of his managerial position in the factory and his position as “coyote “, he subjects the men to “medical examinations.” Needing the work to support their families and provide an access to legitimate U.S. citizenship, the men have no recourse but to reply. Despite the narrator stating “Felix did not force them to do anything” (Islas 135), he puts them in a position in which any act of agency to refuse is put under the threat of not only being fired, but the denial of American citizenship. Whether or not he forces them to do anything, there is an implicit threat inherent in the dynamic of power he holds over the workers. Further, the medical examinations exist as a form of rape. Each of his examinations on a worker is an internal violation of the male body. The very act of hernia and prostate examinations involves an act of penetration. One could argue that the workers effectively consent to the examinations, but the consent is influenced by the examinations being mandatory for work and, by association, U.S. citizenship. By subjecting the men to this examination under the implicit threats, he is committing an act of rape regardless of how gentle or un-“forceful” he is described as being.
    This trend of domination continues in his attempted seduction of the soldier. In their interactions, the soldier is described as being “guarded” and “shy” (Islas 134f.). Felix responses by equating the soldier with previous targets and regards such men as “his greatest challenge” (Islas 135). His plan of advancing on such men is described as luring them into a “charming trap” (Islas 135). In the following paragraph, the youths Felix pursues are described as having a “certain purity” in their young age the he seeks to grasp to experience his own youth. To this effect, the pure young men exist not as consenting and equal partners, but objects of use for Felix; in using these youths, he is also using taking advantage of this “certain purity” (Islas 135). The very act of Felix’s seduction of others does not even consider consent and exists as an extension of the power dynamic he controls at the factory. He buys the soldier his beer and often buys rounds on payday. This enforces a power of, even if slight, economic disparity between Felix and others that is rooted in his manager position. The factory gives him a position of power over others’ economic and social welfare and potential mobility as well as providing more money for him to exercise some ort of economic power in the outside world. If one considers Felix’s car as a space and the divisions of seats as personal areas, Felix’s hand on the soldier’s knee and the later stroking of his thigh become a, albeit minimal, violation of space. When the soldier denies Felix’s advances, he only continues in a jovial manner, contradiction the assertion that he never “force[d] them to do anything they did not want to do” (Islas 135).
    However, the complications of Felix’s predatory advances are complicated in the descriptions of his masculinity, the location of the bar, and the beating he receives. In the examination of the patients, Felix is described as “gazing upon such beauty [of the male body and particularly the penis] with the wonder and terror of a young bride” (Islas 116). Added to his generally jovial countenance and the assertion that his pursuits are harmless and consensual, an element of Felix’s inherent femininity is revealed in his use of social, political, and economic power to indulge his marginalized and – perceived – deviances. Similarly, his seduction of the soldier is complicated by the bar’s description as being “ambiguous” and known for potentially catering to any manner of similarly perceived deviances. Finally, the severe and horrifying beating Felix receives garners sympathy from the audience despite his underlying predatory advances.

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