Enrique’s Journey

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Lourdes Character Analysis

Lourdes is Enrique, Belky, and Diana's mother. Leaving her children in Honduras is an extremely difficult decision for her, but she does so in order to support them by sending back money. When she arrives in the U.S., she struggles to have a steady job and find a good partner. Eventually, she settles happily in North Carolina. She is relieved and happy to see Enrique when he arrives safely at her home, though subsequently they do have some difficulties readjusting and rebuilding the bonds that were broken by her leaving Enrique when he was so young.

Lourdes Quotes in Enrique’s Journey

The Enrique’s Journey quotes below are all either spoken by Lourdes or refer to Lourdes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Random House edition of Enrique’s Journey published in 2007.
1. The Boy Left Behind Quotes

"[Enrique] will remember only one thing that she says to him: 'Don't forget to go to church this afternoon'."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique, Lourdes
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nazario describes some of Enrique's last memories of his mother, leading up the moment when she abandons him and leaves for the United States. Lourdes loves Enrique, but she also needs to find a decent job--thus, she leaves her child and goes to the U.S. Enrique, a little boy at the time, has no idea why his mother is leaving him: from his perspective, she's leaving for no reason. Nazario conveys the senselessness of the abandonment by describing a particularly vivid memory of Enrique's: just before Lourdes left, she told Enrique to go to church. From Lourdes's perspective, the quote is probably insignificant (it's unlikely she remembers it after all these years). But because Enrique misses his mother so intensely, he remembers her words perfectly. The passage is a sign, then, that Enrique continues to long for his mother, even after she leaves him for America: in a way, Lourdes is Enrique's church; the woman who gives his life a purpose and a meaning.

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"This had been his first home, the small stucco house where he and Lourdes lived until Lourdes stepped off the front porch and left. His second home was the wooden shack where he and his father lived with his father's mother, until his father found a new wife and left. His third home was the comfortable house where he lived with his uncle Marco."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique, Lourdes, Luis, Maria Marcos
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

In the absence of a mother to take care of him, Enrique finds himself moving from house to house, since his family situation just isn't stable. Although his father is supposed to take care of him, Enrique finds that his father isn't much good at parenting--he seems more interested in remarrying and enjoying himself. As a result, Enrique moves between many different households according to his father's situation: there's no stability in his life. One could say that Enrique is used to traveling and moving around: growing up, he's never able to find "roots" anywhere, which perhaps helps explain why he would choose to journey to the United States.

The passage is tragic because it suggests that Enrique's life is fragmented and twisted because his mother isn't there to take care of him. Enrique knows that a mother is supposed to comfort her children and provide a sense of stability--in the absence of such stability, he gets "thrown around" a lot. 

2. Seeking Mercy Quotes

"When Enrique's mother left, he was a child. Six months ago, the first time he set out to find her, he was still a callow kid. Now he is a veteran of a perilous pilgrimage by children, many of whom come looking for their mothers and travel any way they can."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique, Lourdes
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Nazario flashes back to the first time that Enrique tried to meet up with his mother in the United States. Enrique was only a small child, and he didn't get very far; and yet as he's grown older, Enrique has continued to try to journey to America. His love for his mother, and his assuredness that meeting his mother will solve all his problems, is total. One could say that Enrique's coming-of-age is just a steady process of trying to come to America and failing, again and again, until finally he succeeds.

As always Nazario makes it clear that she's not just telling the story of one immigrant, but many: there are thousands of young Enriques trying to come to America to rejoin their beloved families.

4. Gifts and Faith Quotes

"Somewhere over there lives his mother. She has become a mystery, too. He was so young when she left that he can barely remember what she looks like: curly hair, eyes like chocolate. Her voice is a distant sound on the phone."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique, Lourdes
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

The great irony of Enrique's journey is that although he's traveling to reunite with his mother, he can barely remember her: the actual physical evidence he remembers of her is so vague that it could be said to describe all sorts of people. Perhaps it's fair to say that Enrique is as interested in the idea of having a mother as he is in his specific mother's life. Enrique's lack of knowledge of his mother's life shouldn't be taken as a criticism of their relationship: rather, Enrique seems absolutely right to want to reunite with his mother--his actions seem like basic human nature (children want to be with their parents, particularly if they haven't seen their parents in a long time). The difference, of course, is that Enrique, unlike most people in the U.S., has to travel thousands of miles and break various laws in order to see his mother; as a result, his memory of his mother begins to fade, tragically.

5. On the Border Quotes

"His mother is a stranger...But he can feel her love."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique, Lourdes
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

 Enrique is still far away from his mother: he's living in Nuevo Laredo, working to ensure that he has enough money to travel into the United States. Enrique gets a tattoo of his mother's name in order to remind him of his devotion to his mother and provide himself with a constant reminder of his quest to enter the United States. Nazario sums up Enrique's relationship with his mother by saying that, although Lourdes is far away, Enrique can feel her love.

The passage is important because it acknowledges the vast distances between Enrique and his mother--both literal and metaphorical. At the same time, it suggests that it is possible for Enrique to love his mother, despite having never really known her.

6. A Dark River, Perhaps a New Life Quotes

"Children like Enrique dream of finding their mothers and living happily ever after. For weeks, perhaps months, these children and their mothers cling to romanticized notions of how they should feel toward each other. Then reality intrudes."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique, Lourdes
Page Number: 191
Explanation and Analysis:

The tragedy of Enrique's journey, as Nazario has already hint, is that his quest isn't really that meaningful in the end. Enrique risks his life and his freedom in order to reunite with his mother, a woman he doesn't know well. Enrique is sure that meeting with his mother will solve all of his problems: over the years, his mother has become a nearly mystical figure, a "holy grail." Inevitably, then, when Enrique reunites with his mother, he'll be somewhat disappointed: the idea of his reunion will always be more satisfying and perfect than the real thing.

Without any need to idealize their parents, immigrants like Enrique can see their mothers for what they really are: kind, loving people who are nonetheless flawed. Ultimately, then, Enrique's journey is tragic because reality intrudes.

7. The Girl Left Behind Quotes

"'It's like a miracle,' [Lourdes] says. It is as if all the hurt he felt inside had to come out and now he is ready to move on."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Lourdes
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:

Enrique continues to resent his mother for abandoning him when he was only a young child--even if he understands the harsh economic realities that led her to do so. And yet when he comes to America to live with his mother, he begins to change his relationship with her. As if in revenge, Enrique separates from his mother for a second time: he moves to North Carolina with his friends, voluntarily. Enrique quickly begins to realize that he really does love his mother: he begins to think more about why she left him to come to America.

As Lourdes puts it, Enrique has gone through two "rounds" of pain: the first when Lourdes left him to come to America; the second when he separated from Lourdes to live in North Carolina. Because of these painful separations, Enrique has come to see the truth about Lourdes: she's a kind, loving, but ultimately imperfect woman who tried to do her best to provide for her family, even if that meant abandoning her family. Enrique, it would seem, is ready to move on with his life, instead of dwelling on his love and resentment for his mother. One could say that Enrique's real journey has been psychological, not literal: he's come to see the light about his family situation.

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Lourdes Character Timeline in Enrique’s Journey

The timeline below shows where the character Lourdes appears in Enrique’s Journey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
1. The Boy Left Behind
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Enrique is five years old on January 29, 1989, when his mother, Lourdes, leaves Tegucigalpa in Honduras. He does not know what is going on, and Lourdes... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Lourdes makes her journey by bus through Mexico with her smuggler—a person who helps illegal immigrants... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
When Lourdes leaves Honduras on that fateful day, Enrique is left confused and abandoned. His father, Luis,... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Lourdes life in the U.S. is not what she imagined. She rekindles a relationship with a... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Despite Lourdes' attempts to care for her children from afar, the money cannot make up for their... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
In Honduras, the anger Enrique feels at the separation from his mother causes him to rebel. He is suspended three times and becomes a problem at school.... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
A year later, Lourdes moves to North Carolina, where there are fewer immigrants and she finds the people more... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Enrique next moves to his maternal grandmother's, where he grew up with Lourdes. At fifteen, Enrique becomes quiet and sad. His grandmother... (full context)
5. On the Border
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...banks of the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo for days. He is unsure whether his mother is still in North Carolina and he has lost her phone number. He remembers just... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...of sorts: if Enrique can earn enough to get the phone cards and call his mother, he will be more likely to pay El Tiríndaro to help him cross the river... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...phone card. The next day, in celebration, he has El Tiríndaro give him a tattoo: "EnriqueLourdes" written on his chest. He knows his mother won’t be happy about the tattoo. However,... (full context)
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...he is trustworthy and has a good success rate. Yet before he can call his mother to tell her to hire El Tiríndaro, Enrique discovers that his right shoe has been... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...old boss in Honduras, who connects him to his relatives who then give him his mother's phone number in North Carolina. He runs to a pay phone to be alone, and... (full context)
6. A Dark River, Perhaps a New Life
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization  Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
In North Carolina, Lourdes, worried sick about Enrique, waits to hear from her son. She has not been able... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Enrique and Lourdes fit this pattern. The first day is joyful, just as they expected. They talk about... (full context)
7. The Girl Left Behind
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Enrique and Lourdes continue to argue. He blames his mother for leaving him and his sister Belky (and... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
As Enrique and Lourdes become more estranged, Enrique turns to alcohol to ease the tension and starts to smoke... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
...less frequently, even though he still tells her that he wants her to join him. Lourdes begins to notice that Enrique is high often and catches him with the paint thinner.... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Enrique has been in the U.S. for two and a half years. Arguments with his mother continue. He wants to stop drinking and wasting his money, so that he does not... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
Mirian, Lourdes' sister, is out of work and cannot afford to raise her children in Honduras. She... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Lourdes and the family move to Florida in search of better work. There, the men get... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...the long term. Enrique sets up a smuggler for her. The day she leaves, like Lourdes, she says goodbye to her daughter but cannot bring herself to tell her daughter where... (full context)
Epilogue
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...make up this book, the TV show Don Francisco Presenta airs an episode about Enrique, Lourdes, and Nazario. Don Francisco surprises his guests by also flying Belky to the show on... (full context)
Afterword: Women, Children, and the Immigration Debate
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization  Theme Icon
Immigration  Theme Icon
...doubled. In Latin America, the divorce rates are rising, which means more and more single mothers like Lourdes will be compelled by poverty to leave their children. The growing number of... (full context)