Enrique’s Journey

Sonia Nazario Character Analysis

The author of Enrique’s Journey, she learns (to her shock) that her housekeeper Carmen had left children behind when she came to the United States to work. This leads Nazario, herself a daughter of immigrants, to investigate the phenomenon of single mothers coming to the United States to support their children left behind, the impact this “abandonment” has on them and the families they leave behind, and the children who often come searching for the parents who they feel left them. Nazario’s investigation leads her to Enrique, and the book both tells Enrique and his family’s story and of Nazario’s experience retracing Enrique’s steps as he endures the treacherous journey to try to reach his mother Lourdes in the United States.

Sonia Nazario Quotes in Enrique’s Journey

The Enrique’s Journey quotes below are all either spoken by Sonia Nazario or refer to Sonia Nazario. 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.
Prologue Quotes

"I was stuck by the choice mothers face when they leave their children. How do they make such an impossible decision? Among Latinos, where family is all-important, where for women motherhood is valued far above all else, why are droves of mothers leaving their children? What would I do if I were in their shoes?"

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker)
Page Number: xii
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Then I began to retrace his steps, doing the journey exactly as he had done it a few weeks before. I wanted to see and experience things as he had with the hope of describing them more fully."

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

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"Although I often felt exhausted and miserable, I knew I was experiencing only an iota of what migrant children go through...The journey gave me a glimmer of how hard this is for them."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker)
Page Number: xxii
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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"In their absence, these mothers become larger than life. Although in the United States the women struggle to pay rent and eat, in the imaginations of their children back home they become deliverance itself, the answer to every problem. Finding them becomes the quest for the Holy Grail."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker)
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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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:

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"In spite of everything, Enrique has failed again--he will not reach the United States this time, either. He tells himself over and over that he'll just have to try again."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

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3. Facing the Beast Quotes

"Nearly one in six migrant girls detained by authorities in Texas says she has been sexually assaulted during her journey, according to a 1997 University of Houston study."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker)
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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"At the rate of nearly one every other day, the Red Cross estimates, U.S.-bound Central American migrants who ride freight trains lose arms, legs, hands, or feet."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker)
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

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"He was five years old when his mother left him. Now he is almost another person. In the window glass, he sees a battered young man, scrawny and disfigured. It angers him, and it steels his determination to push northward."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Enrique
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

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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:

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5. On the Border Quotes

"Outside the church after dinner, many migrants engage in a crude kind of street therapy: Who has endured the worst riding the trains?"

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker)
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

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

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

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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:

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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:

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"Maria Isabel does not say goodbye to her daughter. She does not hug her. She gets out of the car and walks briskly into the bus terminal. She does not look back. She never tells her she is going to the United States."

Related Characters: Sonia Nazario (speaker), Maria Isabel, Jasmin
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sonia Nazario Character Timeline in Enrique’s Journey

The timeline below shows where the character Sonia Nazario appears in Enrique’s Journey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario opens the book by describing the moment that inspired her to find Enrique’s story. One... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Carmen explains her story to Nazario, telling her that her husband left her for another woman, that she could not provide... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...him, arrives unanticipated in Los Angeles after embarking on a journey to reunite with her. Nazario hears about his trip and, following up, learns about the dangers he faced hitchhiking through... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario outlines the changes in immigration to the United States in recent years, with about 700,000... (full context)
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario decides to learn as much as she can about the treacherous journey that children like... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario’s plan is to experience for herself the trip that young migrants make to reunite with... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario’s reconstruction of the journey requires her to face serious danger, witnessing the near death of... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Towards the end of the prologue, Nazario lays out her own background to show the ways that she relates to these stories.... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario ends by describing her awe at the tenacity of the young people who make this... (full context)
2. Seeking Mercy
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
After this episode, Nazario turns the story back six months to when Enrique made his first attempt to travel... (full context)
3. Facing the Beast
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...one of the main threats that female migrants often encounter and are forced to endure. Nazario cites evidence that one in six female migrants are subject to sexual assault. Finally, Enrique... (full context)
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario also points out another group of people who do not make it out of Chiapas:... (full context)
4. Gifts and Faith
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...At times, even whole communities resist the threats of police in solidarity with the migrants. Nazario recounts an incident in 2000, when drunk police officers shot at migrants and even beat... (full context)
5. On the Border
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...have been killed by dehydration in the intense heat, or have gotten shot by ranchers. Nazario further details what border security is like. The number of border agents has skyrocketed since... (full context)
6. A Dark River, Perhaps a New Life
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...Rio Bravo at this location, is dangerous. The current is strong and there are whirlpools. Nazario notes that fifty-four migrants have died this year alone trying to cross the Rio Bravo... (full context)
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario reports that if caught, authorities can deport migrants back to their home countries. First, though,... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario reflects on Enrique's journey and points out that his story is real, not fictional. Though... (full context)
Epilogue
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Not long after Nazario publishes the articles on Enrique’s journey that come to make up this book, the TV... (full context)
Afterword: Women, Children, and the Immigration Debate
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
Nazario ends the book by presenting some more details and data about immigration to the United... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...can create life-long problems for children and parents. At the Newcomer School in Los Angeles, Nazario learns about the difficulties that immigrant students face, such as feelings of resentment, abandonment, and... (full context)
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
...the security measures (and incredible dangers) of the journey into the United States. In conclusion, Nazario cites experts who believe that the immigration problem can only be solved by helping bolster... (full context)