Breaking Through Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:
This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on Breaking Through by Francisco Jiménez.
"Breaking Through" is a non-fiction book comprised of a series of anecdotes. The book is about the author, Francisco Jimenez, and his experience as a Mexican immigrant in the United States. Each chapter is a different anecdote, and the entire book is told in the past tense as Francisco remembered his experiences from childhood and adolescence.
When Francisco and his family first came to the United States in the 1940s from Mexico, only Francisco's father was a legal immigrant since he had a work visa from a strawberry farmer named Ito. Francisco, his mother, and his older brother Roberto were illegal immigrants. Francisco's younger siblings, Trampita, Torito, Rorro, and Ruben, were all legal immigrants. Before they were deported, the Jimenez family traveled to different tent labor camps depending on where there was work. Mostly, they followed the crop seasons since Papa worked in the fields.
When Francisco was about 14 years old he and his family were deported back to Mexico, but only for a short while as they got their documentation in order. While they waited to be able to return to the U.S., all eight members of the Jimenez family - six children, Mama, and Papa - stayed in a hotel room within a few blocks of the border. After their applications were complete and everyone could return legally to the U.S., only Francisco and Roberto went so they could earn enough money to afford to bring the rest of the family. Their younger siblings and parents stayed with Papa's sister in Guadalajara, Mexico, until Roberto and Francisco could send enough money over time to bring everyone over.
As Francisco and Roberto lived on their own they became more interested in American culture. Francisco paid attention to what his peers liked, which was rock 'n' roll and dancing, and so worked hard to learn both. He and Roberto went to dances at the local Veterans Memorial building on Saturday nights. Sometimes, too, they would go to American movies together, something they had never done with their family.
The rest of Francisco's family returned from Mexico and their life resumed as usual. Francisco and Roberto were still allowed to go to dances on Saturday nights, but that they were only allowed one night out a week so if they wanted to do anything else, they couldn't go to the dance. They worked for a cleaning company owned by a man named Mike Nevell during the week and sometimes in the fields for Ito on Sundays, so Papa wanted them ready to work, since the family depended on their income.
Papa was often in a bad mood because he suffered from severe back pain, which meant his ability to work in the fields was not consistent. He hated not being able to provide for his family, and so his mood didn't change too often. Mama encouraged Francisco in whatever he wanted to do, which was usually something related to school.
During high school, Francisco worked hard at all his classes, but especially English and typing class because they were the two he had the hardest time keeping up with. For typing class in ninth grade, he fortunately came across an old typewriter at one of the law offices he cleaned. He practiced and got much better, ultimately getting a good grade in the class. For English class, Francisco worked closely with the teacher to correct his mistakes. He also practiced reading more, and wrote some of the poems and vocabulary lists he needed to memorize on a card he kept in his pocket so he could study while working.
For extracurricular activities, Francisco was president of the Spanish club, a member of the Squires club, and participated in the Junior Scandals, a variety show put on by students. He enjoyed the time with his peers, especially after Roberto left the house when he got married. Roberto and Francisco were best friends, so when Roberto left Francisco was sad and needed a distraction.
At the beginning of his senior year, Francisco came down with mononucleosis, a viral illness that made him so exhausted he couldn't work or go to school. Trampita, Roberto, and Mama covered for Francisco while he recovered. Francisco took the advice of his mother and prayed for healing, and four weeks later felt almost back to normal.
Francisco also worked closely with his guidance counselors to make sure he had the right classes to set him up for the future. He wanted to be a teacher. His first guidance counselor, Mr. Kinkade, helped him take the right courses, and his second counselor, Mr. Penney, helped set him up with scholarships, a federal loan, and applying to Santa Clara University. Mr. Penney also suggested a field trip to a local college so Francisco could get the feel for what it'd be like. Francisco took the opportunity and looked forward to going to college, even though he knew he'd miss his family.
Francisco was accepted into Santa Clara University. He worked for part of the summer leading up to his leaving, until Trampita completely took over Francisco's cleaning job with Mr. Nevell's company. The entire family, minus Roberto and his wife and newborn, traveled from their home in Santa Maria to Santa Clara University. As Francisco drove, he was proud of himself for breaking through barriers of language, academic challenges, and cultural differences in order to make a better future for himself. He hated moving around when he was a child, but this was one move - from home to college - that he didn't mind making.
The author includes an Author's Note at the conclusion of the book in order to notify the reader that to write "Breaking Through," he relied heavily on stories from his living family members. Also, that any conversations where Francisco could not remember the exact wording, he filled in the dialogue.
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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it’s the courage to continue that counts”(Winston Churchill). Life is dependent on our dreams. If you ever fail along the way to your success, you’ll be tempted to get yourselves right back and continue your journey. Although, if ever found yourself to be successful, would you stop there? Or would you have the courage to continue and set higher goals for yourself? In the book “Breaking Through” in which Francisco Jimenez is the main character and author, he faces many obstacles. Although, Francisco has encountered multiple obstacles, he has many characteristics, which are being responsible, ambitious and respectful.
Francisco has faced many dilemmas in his life, yet they’ve made Francisco a better person at the end of the day. Francisco has countless of characteristics. Although the ones in which stood out the most would be being responsible, ambitious and respectful. Francisco has a large number of characteristics, which make him such an admirable character in the book “Breaking Through”. The first characteristic that plays a big role in Francisco’s character would be being responsible. Francisco’s dreams are to go to college and have a better future for himself and his family. Although his home situation and him being emigrate from Mexico, struggling with English cause him to face many obstacles before he reaches his goal. Due to his home situation, Francisco learns to be very responsible. One perfect example would be when Roberto and Francisco come back to Bonnetti ranch with out their parents.
Roberto and Francisco had to go to school and work and lastly save money to send to their parents back at Mexico. Francisco says, “The sounds of Papa’s coughing, the rattle of his aspirin bottle, and the rolling of Mama’s twelve-inch lead pipe as she pressed dough to make tortillas were absent.” Francisco says (19) The second characteristic Francisco has would be is being very ambitious with helping his family and his personal goals like attending college. Francisco has always loved learning but English has not always been easy for him to learn. Although Francisco has other responsibilities apart from school he works in the fields and with Mike Nevel. One example that shows how ambitious Francisco is when he runs for student body president. Regardless of Francisco’s other obligations he was determined to make time for school priorities. “If I run and win, I’d have to study more in the evenings after work, sleep less, and skip some school dances.” “Francisco says (140)
Lastly, the third characteristic that stood out to me as well is Francisco is very loyal. Francisco and papa have different opinions about the future. Although papa would prefer for Francisco to not leave for college, Francisco always has Papa’s wishes in his heart. Every decision he makes or takes into consideration, Francisco always thinks about how will it affect his family finically or emotionally. One example to this characteristic would be when Francisco is at his second semester of his senior year. When his fellow classmates are sharing their options on what university they might attend.
Although not for Francisco, he is positive about Papa not letting him continue his education beyond high school. “Some were going to the University of California at Santa Barbra or UCLA. Others got into Fresno state but were waiting to hear from Berkeley. I did not share their enthusiasm. I had to stay at home and continue helping my family.” Francisco says (163) In conclusion, although Francisco has many characteristics that are shown in “Breaking Through” the ones that stood out the most me were being responsible, ambitious, and loyal. Characteristics are what make us a good or bad person at the end of the day. Also, it’s meant for us to show other people are potential in life or other wise.