The story starts in California in the presidency of Nixon and the Vietnam war. In an attempt to escape the drunken stepfather who dominates his household, 17-year-old Jesse, aMexican-American, drops out of high school after Christmas of his senior year, he leaves home, moves with his brother Abel, and attends junior college. Living on 90 dollars a month each from SocialSecurity, a legacy of their dead father, the boys go to classes, form friendships, work in the fields to make money for food. Both struggle with ever-present poverty. They often earn spending money byworking in the fields picking melons or cotton. Jesse is a serious sort of person, regularly occupied with thoughts of God and the role religion plays in his life. Proud of his increasing talent as anartist, Jesse experiences intense disappointment when his mother fails to understand and appreciate one of his drawings.
After some time Jesse is jealous of his brother because he finds a girlfriend,also he is angry because he is very shy to conquer a girl.
Also the author tries to reflect the turbulent time, like the brothers' fear of receiving draft notices, and Jesse's participation inCaesar Chavez's farmer workers' movement that attempted to improve working conditions for farm
Jesse is the more adventurous brother, whereas Abel is the more mature and responsible brother.Abel, being the older brother, gets sent away to Vietnam. Jesse is deeply saddened by this and so he runs away from home. This is where he crosses the striking grape workers. During this conversation hemeets a man who is in the strike, "a short stubbly man with a large mustache", who basically tells Jesse that "a good steady job" and a "committed dedication" is all somebody needs to be successful inlife.
Jesse sees Richard Nixon in a television shop as he and his mother are walking downtown (she's shopping for Christmas). She's looking to buy her husband a TV and learns that their family...