The Cariboo Cafe by Helena Maria Viramontes is a short story that follows three different perspectives, that of two young children named Sonya and Macky, The Cariboo Cafe cook, and an unnamed mother. All three sections of the story share the common connection of the characters ending up at The Cariboo Cafe for a variety of reasons, the most important reason being the influence of society.
In class, we discussed how the true protagonist of The Cariboo Cafe is not a specific character, but rather the society and system as a whole.
The Cariboo Cafe was written in 1984, and during this time was the Central American crisis. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala broke out into civil wars and communist revolutions that created violence and made it extremely dangerous to live in these places.
As a result of this violence, many Central Americans began to seek refuge in the United States for safety, like Sonya and Macky in The Cariboo Cafe.
Today, many people from Mexico and Central American countries are immigrating into the United States for safety and more opportunity, like Sonya and Macky and the unnamed woman in The Cariboo Cafe.
In The Cariboo Cafe, the cook seems to have closed minded opinions about these immigrants, referring to them as “illegals” and “weirdos” (Viramontes 2981).
Today, President Trump has said similar comments about Mexican immigrants, referring to them as “bad hombres” and “rapists” (Ross, Washington Post).
These closed minded and racist ideals from both the cook and President Trump reveal the consistency of American ignorance and how it hasn’t changed in the many decades between these two events.
It shows that Americans need to learn acceptance and empathy towards those who are immigrating to the United States to escape violence and to better themselves and their families.
“The Cariboo Cafe”, A short story by Maria Helena Viramontes
Ross, Janell. “From Mexican Rapists to Bad Hombres, the Trump Campaign in Two Moments.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Apr. 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/20/from-mexican-rapists-to-bad-hombres-the-trump-campaign-in-two-moments/.