The Squatter And The Don Essay, Research Paper
The novel begins with William Darrell explaining to his wife what makes him a settler and not a squatter, in his eyes, as an American citizen. From there Darrell heads to Southern California to acquire lands to settle , build a homestead, and bring his family down south with him. His wife makes him promise not to settle on lands belonging to others and that if he does, pay the rightful owner of that land. Don Mariano Alamar was the man on whose land Mr. Darrell had squatted, along with several other American settlers. About this time people were investing heavily in city blocks expecting a huge payoff when the Texas Pacific Railroad was punched through to San Diego. Mr. Darrell s son Clarence had fallen for Don Alamar s daughter, Mercedes, which began the love story in the novel. Mercita s mother was objectional to this since Clarence was of a squatters family, so she sent Mercedes to New York to avoid Clarence. One problem- Clarence sought the Don s permission to follow her to New York, in which he did. Corruption in the government was a revolving door regarding Don Alamar s land title. The Attorney General had dismissed the squatters appeal on Alamar s land, only to have a subordinate attorney overturn the appeal so that it would remain in litigation longer. That soon came to an end as the Don s title was proven valid by the Attorney General again. The squatters didn t move off of the Alamar land with the news that the title was valid, but did step up their killing of the Don s cattle. The other squatters had influenced Mr. Darrell to confront Don Mariano which led to a sickening rift between not only the Don and Darrell, but between Darrell and Clarence, as well as tearing Mercedes and Clarence apart. Clarence then left and traveled around the US, Mexico, South America, and Europe. The failure of the Texas Pacific Railroad to come to San Diego broke Don Mariano economically and mentally. Don Mariano died of a heart not filled by expectations and a heart trampled on by the US government. Clarence returned to California and married Mercedes and offered to buy the Alamar ranch for a huge sum to lift the burden of the costs off of Dona Josefa s back. The Alamar family then moved and settled in San Francisco.
History has been taught to us in our up bringing as the told through the voices of wealthy white males. They in turn have created history books full of admiration towards the dominant white race, as the saviors of all beings, the reason we are what we are today. There is no mention of how the white capitalistic elitists used the backs of the minorities as a stepping stone to better their positions in society. This is where Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton steps in to tell a story that a society governed by race and class wouldn t necessarily be exposed to. As a woman born from Mexican-bloodlines, Ruiz de Burton embodies everything about being apart of the previously mentioned minority that was used as a stepping stone. Being a minority allowed her to witness firsthand the atrocities that began to happen to the native Californios after the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hildago. The imperialistic dominant white culture was in no position to see what exactly they were doing to the natives, other than sugar-coating their conquering and settlement to the world. Ruiz de Burton was able to write a novel that, without bashing the white population, was a thorough explanation of what happened, as seen through the eyes of her people. It s as close to the real thing as we ll ever get. It s a voice that would have never been related to such a widespread audience if hadn t been written down. Perhaps this may have been a motivating factor in getting her work published. She told the story as a straight forward, matter-of-fact chronicle of events.
The Squatter and the Don was written to appeal to a wide audience of people, no matter their color, class, or ethnicity. Her intended audience wasn t solely to be that of her own racial ethnicity, specifically because she spoke kindly of the people she must have abhorred the most. She didn t alienate one particular race, but rather showed the underlying humanness of all, be it good and genuine or evil and callus. By reaching out to everybody, Ruiz de Burton is able to comfortably tell her story in a way in which everybody can pull in the information and understand how race and power have walked hand-in-hand in creating the problems that she s writing about. Ruiz de Burton is successful in bringing her points about for several reasons. First of all, she doesn t try to make herself sound like a hero to end all of the problems by trying to incorporate plots to make wrongs into rights. This could have easily been done, but by doing so it would have taken the focus off of what she was trying to accomplish in telling the plight of the native Californios. Also, she s straight-forward and delivers to us an interesting blend of thoughts that make us realize what the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hildago actually brought forth upon the Californios population that wasn t white, and the population that was white. The brutality and greed of the government to expand their territory is what stuck out the most though. It s well known that our government has long stepped on people on the way to their imperialistic-capalism laced grand society. Much is also known about how much injustice the government did to the Native American indigenous population, but little known about how the US government handled the Mexicans. Ruiz de Burton showed through this novel many of the unjust and corrupt acts the US used to keep this population down and pose little threat to their interests. Eyes were opened to problems and actions never thought of or gained from US History textbooks. One final strength is that she used romance as a major theme of the book. A person that isn t interested in a romance novel, quickly became interested in following the path of Clarence and Mercedes, making the novel run smoothly and quickly.
This is a great book for anyone who isn t aware of the corruption in the government in dealing with aspects of Mexican-United States relations, or how race and power created a constant power struggle and misunderstanding of one another. It provides a conquered viewpoint to the conquered and the conqueror.