Title of the Essay

Stagnation and the ultimate desire to break free from the rut of factory work are the key themes of David Dominguez poetic narrative Work Done Right. Unlike other books, the story unfolds in verses and meter rather than the usual paragraphs and chapters. However, the method used still captures the essence of the main characters personal journey from being stuck at a Sausage processing plant and finally striking it out in the world which was triggered by the death of his only friend Guillermo. Also the use of poetry as chapters allows more vivid images. It allows the readers to supply the unspoken words in the story with their own ideas of work, freedom and growth. By the use of poetry and stanzas Abrahams day to day struggle in the factory and the constant wish to get out become more felt. In the end, the decision to quit the job is felt as a major turning point in his life as well as an epiphany of sorts, where after several poems about the dangers of using big machines, the boredom in industry work and the routine lifestyle, is magnified for the reader to actually feel good about freedom.

There are many important elements in the entire narrative. There is death, friendship, hardship, menial labor, the plight of workers as modern day slaves, love and most importantly growth, search for ones identity and liberation. Abraham, the main voice in the story, can be likened to an apprentice or a young lad who still has high spirits about the world and who finds everything interesting. Abraham, the great-grandson of Alberto, a Mexican soldier who crouched below a shrub of honey mesquite and buried in his uniform (Between Magnolia and Ash, 3), descends from a line of immigrants. The history Alberto, his great grandfather, is shown in the first poem where it is told that he was caught ravaging a young woman which was the reason why he was perhaps banished from the land. This story begins what can be called hardship because from estate owner, the Alberto clan became poor with nothing but a cart and a young mare to their name (4).

The second poem would explain the present condition of Abraham. Like all high-spirited youths, he means to travel the world with his second-hand pickup truck with nothing but two pairs of jeans, a few T-shirts, and a pair of work boots (Mi Historia, 7). What can be seen here is that Abraham has become independent and is out looking for a job. He does not like to have a dead-end life because it feels like that his liking for the road speaks of his wish to go on and on in a journey for himself. In the same poem, it is revealed that Abraham wants to right his own historynot the history of men, of earth or of anyone else but his own. Again, he does not want to get stuck at becoming some stereotype and it is felt that he is hell bent on making sure that he makes a namea history for himself which is a grand ambition for a young teen.

Following this brief history of Abrahams life, the author now zooms in to the main setting of the story which is the Galdini Sausage factory. Abraham applies for the job perhaps eager to earn money to pay for his needs now that he is on his own. He is a newcomer to the factory but settles in quite easily because of the welcoming factory workers who helped him out. However, his senses are assaulted by the overwhelming stench of raw pork meat. He notes that pork gripped the men and was everywhere, in the form of blood, in the form of fat, and in pink meat stuck to the workers shoes (Pig, 11). The title of the poem chapter captures the lingering stench of raw material and thoughts of hours of hard work along with the overwhelming sense of industrial slavery if not stagnation. Put differently, the smell of pig and the fact that bits and pieces of raw meat are stuck everywhere immediately gives to the readers a feeling of being trapped.

The pervasiveness of pig meat is a powerful imagery that it brings up the emotion of hopelessness and desperation. Abraham even observes that one man stood straight up into the sky, closed his eyes, and with his thumb and forefinger worked out bits of meat from his eyelashes (ibid.). This only goes to show that the workers there have dedicated their lives to their work so much so that parts of their work turn up in different places in their bodies and clothes. Still, Abraham attempts to work in the factory. Despite the dirty job involve he pushes on determined perhaps to make some money and become an adult.

He starts work with strange men who are his co-workers. The scene is a little bit hostile because Abraham does not yet know how to use the machine and how to cut the links. He is at once intimidated by a co-worker who they call Mamas who is able to cut links with precision for hours on end. As if by way of comparison, he notices that his job was Womans work and he feels that his nicked-up knuckles began to burn and fray with blood, while Mamas move her hands with grace (Contigo 13). The image that is shown is one of a newcomer trying to keep at pace with a veteran in the factory. Yet the differences in their skills do not deter Abraham from taking on the job, but only reminds him of distant memories form the past of another woman with the same slender hands (ibid.).

It is important to point out that at the very first day of his work Abrahams thoughts begin to wander around. He is physically manning the grinder but his mind is elsewhere. This is indicative of the fact that he is the type of person who will not like to be tied down to one place or to one activity. Immediately after watching his co-workers work, his thoughts take him back to memories of his grandfather, to empanadas and to other days when he was still a young child. He compares the life of an adult filled with so many problems and responsibilities to a child who is carefree and is free from any obligation.

There are other instances where Abraham tries to escape the drudgery of routine work. His hands automatically cut off sausages while he remembers the happiest moments of his life. Eventually he turns his interest to his only friend in the factory Guillermo. Guillermo, like Mamas, has been working the factory for so long. Guillermo was a man who came to work on time, a man who always smelled like aftershave and the lotion he used to comb his hair (Rise Like a Moon Above Industrial Sol, 29). His (Guillermo) hands calloused by the amount of hours trying to process meat to sausages and chorizos. His mind fully attuned to the buzz of the machines and the grinders. Consequently, Guillermo was the personification of wisdom, old age and the idea of stagnation to the mind of Abraham. In other words, Abraham saw himself in Guillermo several years down the road.

However, Guillermo was also a friend outside of work. Like the title of the poem chapter, Abraham see a glimmer in the line of his work in Guillermo like a Moon above industrial Sol, because he is at peace when he watches Guillermo and is fascinated by the confident manner in which Guillermo attended to his work We finished the pallet in silence, morning moved slowly toward noon, and when the pallet was empty, we clocked out, and tried to leave our thoughts of pork for some other day (30). Put in other words, Abraham felt that his days moved faster and the thoughts of pork kept at bay when he is with Guillermo.

This friendship between Abraham and Guillermo is one of apprenticeship and learning. Abraham learns the ropes of his work as much as he discovers how adults deal with life. When Abraham comments that this is not the way to live (referring to the work at the Sausage factory), Guillermo replies by dipping his hands into a box line with wax, used his hand like a wooden ladle, filled his palm with warm blood, and he held it very still as if blood might reveal lost memory or a life that he had yet to live (Club Las Palmas, 31). The deft motions and the silent reply only highlights the idea that Guillermo has found his place he can call home which is the sausage factory which would ultimately be the place where dies.

Guillermo had dedicated his life to the work at the sausage factory in ways that Abraham could not even begin to imagine. To Abrahams mind, the work in the factory was supposed to be only temporary and should not substitute his big ideas of the future. His mind is still young and his maturity level does not equal Guillermo but he has a vision of a life that does not involve working the machines in cramped places and with the stench of pigs meat. He does not want to stagnate the way that Guillermo stagnates in the factory. Instead, Abraham believes that a man must do more than sell roses where the bums go and beg--he must keep something holy. He must breathe the winds that rustle the orchards of the valley where the white almond blooms replenish with their soft scent (Oxtail Stew, 33). And the only way out of the factory was to get off the bus, have his red pickup truck fixed, quit his job and drive away.

At first, Abraham is hesitant to quit his job. His friendship with Guillermo has convinced him that there is something to look forward to even if one is only a sausage factory worker. He puts off several times his attempt at quitting the job. However, when Guillermo figures in an accident and died while at work, the question in Abrahams mind is decided with finality.  In the ninth poem of the final part, Guillermo does work right but meets his demise when the grinder fell down on him and split his head (When the Machines Stopped at Galdini Sausage, 62). The death of Guillermo ended whatever fascination Abraham still has about work and about the factory. While Guillermo was alive, Abraham ignored the stench of the pigs, the striking workers and the itch to leave. However, when Guillermo dies because of his work, it was easy for Abraham to just leave everything behind and ride his truck to nowhere until he discovers his identity as a person and what his history should be in the days to come Abraham Tovar, nineteen years old and no longer up at dawn to work at Galdini Sausage...father of nations and strong like a bull (The Perseid Showers, 65).


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