Monday, October 15, 2012

The Afterlife

Soto, Gary. (2005). The afterlife. Orlando, Fl: Harcourt. ISBN 978-0-15-205220-1

Is death the end of everything?  After taking a knife in the ribs Chuy's life or rather afterlife begins to get interesting and complicated.

Gary Soto 's novel The Afterlife is the story of the life, or rather the death, of Chuy.  Chuy was an ordinary young man who was stabbed to death in the bathroom of a club while combing his hair.  Soto manages to make Chuy' death appear to be the horrible crime that it is as well as allowing it to be a strong catalyst for a novel which tells the tale of a young Hispanic man who was just coming into his life when it was cut short.  Soto's tale if further enriched by the introduction of Crystal, a beautiful young woman who seemingly had it all but chose to end her own life.  Chuy's tale of his afterlife and the slow disintegration of his spirit take the reader on a journey through life's possibilities even through death. 

The interweaving of Spanish throughout the text gives Chuy's voice a cultural authenticity as it reflects the speech patterns seen of many Hispanic youth. "At my parents house, there would be others to lament my death at such a young age.  Angel, mi carnal, would be there, with cement bags of guilt on his shoulders." (p. 14) Further enhancing the cultural authenticity of the novel is the different experiences of Chuy and Crystal during their lives.  This contrast of life and death help to place each within their cultural boundaries while allowing the reader to experience both in a way that is satisfying.


Read an interview with the author about The Afterlife

Geography connection:
Have students create a map of Chuy's travels

English connection:
Have students create their own obituary.

Social Studies connection:
Different cultures view death differently.  Have students research how death is viewed in different parts of the world.

Art connection:
Have students create a Dia de los muertos display that represents Chuy or Crystal.

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