In Rudolfo Anaya’s short story “DEAD END”, he invites us to experience the many struggles of the life of the main character Maria. On her mother’s deathbed, Maria made her mother a life-long promise, to educate
herself. This was very important to her mother, as she never had the opportunity to do so herself.
Following her mother’s death, Maria is determined to keep her promise. She does all of her homework and gets straight. A’s in all of her classes. The dedication to her promise and schoolwork means that she is missing out on a lot of social activities. The other girls at school do not care about school. They care about; boys, partying and having fun.
They dress provocative in short dresses and low-cut tank tops(p. 1, l. 23). Maria does not. “She wasn’t like other girls”(p. 4, l. 7). That fact stood out very clearly to everyone, but especially to the school’s heartthrob, Frankie Galvan.
From very early on in the short story it is made clear that the environment at the school normalizes revealing clothes, heavy make-up, partying, drinking, and smoking. For the other girls this lifestyle has become a
Each morning they arrived late to school and sauntered into the bathroom to smoke (-) and discussed the prior night's adventure.”. This indicates that it is normal for them to show up late, to smoke and that they go out every night, even on school nights. Maria does not partake in any of these activities.
Since her mother’s death, Maria has taken over the role as the mother in her household. Maria says “... her sister still hadn’t accepted their mother’s death.” (p. 3, l. 13-14), indicating that she herself has accepted it. Maria’s dad is rarely home. After the death of his wife, he has been coping with it by working a lot (p. 2, l. 7-8).
Since Maria is the oldest among her siblings, she now does all the parental chores. She helps her siblings with their homework, she cooks etc. (p. 2, l. 14-16). That and her dedication to school shows that Maria is very responsible and dedicated to keeping her promise. During the short story the protagonist, Maria, experiences jealousy and an urge and desire to be like the other girls.