Enrique’s Journey


Sonia Nazario

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Family and Abandonment Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon
Perseverance and Survival Theme Icon
Compassion and Faith Theme Icon
Humanization and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Immigration Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Enrique’s Journey, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Family and Abandonment Theme Icon

Enrique’s Journey, as its title indicates, is the non-fiction story of a 17-year-old boy’s struggle to travel across Mexico to the United States to reunite with his mother. The events depicted in the book are set in motion by an initial instance of abandonment: Lourdes’ difficult decision to leave Enrique and his sister Belky in Honduras, while she seeks work in the United States to send money back to her family. Leaving her children is a painful choice that haunts her throughout her time in the United States. Abandonment, in this case, is harsh but necessary. The layers of family disintegration run deeper than this single decision, though. After Lourdes leaves, Enrique’s father, Luis, also walks out on the family, forming a new one with another woman and leaving his son in the care of their grandmother, Maria. When Enrique begins to rebel in response to his complicated feelings of abandonment, his grandmother also rejects him. By an early age, Enrique has felt the pain of being deserted by his family members three times.

Nazario writes throughout the book of the commonness of Enrique’s situation, giving statistics on the numbers of single women who leave behind their families in Central America in search of work in the U.S. and listing mothers in situations similar to Lourdes’. Within the story she tells, the reader starts to see patterns, in which abandonment leads to abandonment, and the disintegration of one family has ripple effects that lead to the disintegration of others. These traumatic moments of abandonment come out of necessity and the best of intentions in awful circumstances, but the scars of abandonment remain even after some families manage to reunite.

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Family and Abandonment ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Family and Abandonment appears in each chapter of Enrique’s Journey. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Family and Abandonment Quotes in Enrique’s Journey

Below you will find the important quotes in Enrique’s Journey related to the theme of Family and Abandonment.
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:
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 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:

"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:
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:
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:

"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:
4. Gifts and Faith Quotes

"It's wrong for our government to send people back to Central America. If we don't want to be stopped from going into the United States, how can we stop Central Americans in our country?"

Related Characters: Man from Veracruz (speaker)
Page Number: 103
Explanation and Analysis:

"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:
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:
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:
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:

"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: