Looking for Work, a Reader's Response

Looking for Work, a Reader's Response

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Part 1: Summary

"Looking for Work" by Gary Soto is a narration of a nine year old boy, Gary, who is a Mexican-American who wants to become wealthy. He gets this idea during summer and sets out around the neighborhood looking for small jobs. He did a few errands and earns about a quarter. He also watches television shows and is attracted to the life of perfect white families. He wants his family to be like them too. He thought that way; the white people will like them more. His family was very different, and his sister could not understand why he wanted to be more like white people. In the end, when everyone left, he continues to search for a job.

Part 2: Question

I think that the narrator of "Looking for Work" is attracted to the kind of family life portrayed on American television because he also wants to have a family like those, he wants to be rich and be liked by white people.

He has an idea to be rich, and he wants it fast. Being nine year old, he starts out looking for jobs in his neighborhood. After doing two jobs, he earns a nickel, a quarter and two peaches. He has money, and he can do whatever he wants. So with a friend and his sister, they go swimming. Money, to him at this age, affects him greatly already. From his own family, he learns that without money, they'll always be poor and working class. He has the need to be higher in social class and he wants to be like rich people.

He also wants to have a family and life like ones on television. From the shows he learns the way white people dress up to eat, their politeness. A perfect life, compared to his. As he eats dinner, he replays the show in his mind, he notices that his family's "loud with belly laughs and marked by our pointing forks at each other." (29) He finds this different and wishes his family to change; he does so by asking his brother and sister to wear shoes to dinner. However, his family did not cooperate and continued their life as usual.

He is a colored kid who just wants to be liked by white people. This is shown later on, after dinner, when the siblings talk and the little sister asks, "What is the crap about getting dressed up?

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"(29) Gary thought that if they looked better, like whites, they would be liked by the white. He tells them this; however, even his younger sister knew that would not happen.

Gary is a Mexican-American, they are a working class family and being a child, he notices they are different. All he wants is to fit in and be liked by everyone. Therefore, from watching television shows, he learns how white people act and tries to copy them, hoping he would be liked.


Colombo, Cullen, Lisle. "Looking for Work." Rereading America. Boston: Bedford,


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