Beginning when he’s in grade school and continuing, on and off, until he’s in college, Luis Rodriguez is a gang member for many years. During this time, he becomes acquainted with the various aspects of Los Angeles cholo (i.e., gang member) culture: drug use, dismissive treatment of women, and, above all, violent clashes with rival gangs. Luis personally commits some reprehensible crimes as a gang member. Though he never seems to ask for his readers’…(read full theme analysis)
One can’t understand Los Angeles gangs without also understanding the culture (and the cult) of machismo. Machismo—the rigid code of male behavior which male gang members follow to the letter—is the glue that holds gangs together. It builds unity, keeping Luis Rodriguez and other cholos loyal to one another by giving them a common set of beliefs. Machismo influences almost every aspect of the cholos’ behavior. Because machismo prizes the appearance of independence and…(read full theme analysis)
In addition to being a touching coming-of-age story and a fascinating insider’s look at gang culture, Always Running examines the many different forms that political action can take. In Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s, there are a great number of worthy political causes, both domestically and abroad. At various points, Luis describes participating in the resistance to the war in Vietnam, police brutality, racism, and other injustices. In doing so, he poses one…(read full theme analysis)
Like many memoirs, Always Running is a coming-of-age story—in other words, it’s a story about how a young, immature person grows into a confident adult. In this case, the immature young person is Luis, the protagonist and narrator of the memoir. Over the course of his early life in the outer neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Luis develops the courage and self-reliance to thrive where other young people struggle to survive.
Many coming-of-age stories feature a…(read full theme analysis)