María is Luis Rodriguez’s fiery, intimidating mother. The descendant of Native Americans, María marries Alfonso Rodriguez while she’s still very young, and then moves to Los Angeles along with him. As Luis notes several times, she’s willing to sacrifice her own dreams and ambitions for the sake of her husband. Although she and Alfonso have marital difficulties throughout the memoir, they decide to remain married, in large part because they want to take care of their children. During Luis’s teen years, María is an important presence in his life. She discourages him from participating in gang life, at one point forbidding him from living in her house (as a result of which he begins sleeping in the garage). Later, when Luis becomes more heavily involved in political activism, María supports him, even though she’s generally suspicious of political activism. In all, María is portrayed as a passionate parent who takes childrearing very seriously, and hates to see her son get involved in trouble of any kind.