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Jose Mercado

Born Puerto Rico in 1950—would be in his late fifties

- an American citizen from birth
- solider in the Navy for several deployments

Connections to main characters

- he and Ynez are tenants
o they come to the Christmas party
o they greet Alma after Arturo’s death, stay for an hour, talking about how Arturo
helped Jose bring in groceries – details – joking relationship
- truly marginal in the story

Notes about his perspective

- follows the chapter where Mayor’s kiss in the car with Maribel is discovered and Mayor
is forbidden to see her again
- begins with “my wife”
- very personal narrative
o only characters are him, Ynez and his father
- no comments about race or marginalization
o could be because of his age
o could be because of his citizenship
o could be because of his career in the military
- military career -- saw both atrocities of war and the courage of men – connected his
feelings towards the war to thoughts about the work of his body
o “I had come to understand my father’s perspective about the gratification of
feeling useful, of being in the world under the most demanding circumstances,
and learning that I could not only survive but thrive, and that my body, the
physical presence of me, could have import.” (215)
- poet’s heart / aesthete
o painted as a young man
o wrote letters to Ynez during his second deployment to ease her worry
 “I sent her hundreds of letters. I wrote two or three a day sometimes.
They began as a way to save her, but they saved me also. They helped me
to make sense of the things I saw, and from that, I began to make sense
of the world and my place in it.” (215)
o reads poetry

Passage from Poem

- “Poem after Carlos Drummond de Andrade” by Marvin Bell
o written by an American in the style of the great Brazilian poet.
o shows the beauty that can come through the exchange of culture
o Jose loves it
- First part of the poem is about life making you breathe deeply the hard times just for
the sake of breathing and living
o similar to the purpose he found in the life in the navy – living hard, but finding
purpose in that difficulty because of the life if brings
- Second part is about the joy of sweet air that truly makes you feel alive
o his life with Ynez

- provides a more content perspective – likely due to his age and nationality
- question of who Jose could have been had he had more education, more opportunities,
or had been born a different race – he may have been more encouraged to pursue
poetry and art – his class demanded that he work
- but Jose is happy in that, and I think we’re meant to be happy for him.