One of Julia’s youngest cousins is turning three years old, and the family has planned a big pig roast at a venue in town. As Julia, Belén, and Mamá Jacinta walk over to the party, they pass a group of indigenous women and girls begging for alms—Belén rudely calls the women “typical indias” and orders Julia not to give them any money. After Belén moves on, Julia quickly reaches into her pocket and gives a young girl all of her change.
Julia’s desire to give some money to the indigenous women shows again her capacity for empathy. She sees Belén’s judgmental nature as cruel and hypocritical, and begins to understand the ways in which her own haughtiness has stood in her way before. Belén’s behavior may also be taken as pointing to the ways that prejudice is prevalent all over.
At the party venue—owned by the richest family in town, whose wealth, it’s rumored, came from selling drugs—the men are killing the pig for the barbeque. Julia is upset by the display, and Belén calls her a “delicate” American. Determined to prove Belén wrong, Julia chooses to stay and watch the pig get slaughtered rather than take a walk with Mamá Jacinta. After the pig is slaughtered and bled, as the men begin frying it up, Julia feels her mouth water almost against her will. She is “weird[ed]” out by the strangeness of the human body. After the pig meat has been used to make delicious chicarrones, Julia wolfs them down.
This passage symbolizes the often unpleasant nature of ambition. Food has always been a comfort for Julia, and she enjoys snacking on junk. To see where her food actually comes from, though, makes her reconsider what it means to gorge herself. In Mexico, Julia is learning to look her desires and ambitions in the face and see how destructive they can be—just as she understands now that for every dish of chicharrones, a pig must be slaughtered. This does not mean that she doesn’t enjoy the food by any means. But she is becoming more aware of the complexity of life.
The party gets into full swing, and there is dancing and eating as everyone celebrates. Julia’s cousin Andrés, who is just a few years older than her, asks her to come next door with him—he takes her out to a barn where there are two beautiful horses tied up, and asks if she wants to go for a ride. He tells Julia that the horses are in love, and cry when they’re separated. Touched by the beauty of the animals, Julia pushes her reluctance aside and joins Andrés on a peaceful ride through town.
Julia’s quick jaunt with Andrés allows her to see the beauty of Los Ojos from a new vantage point, and to have an experience she’d never be able to have in Chicago—or in her dreams about New York. Julia is seeing that there are other ways of life that are beautiful, and understanding that she doesn’t have to put so much pressure on herself to live only one way or in pursuit of only one thing.
After Andrés and Julia return to the party, Julia dances with the slightly drunken Tío Chucho and has a great time spinning around on the dance floor, unlike at her quinceañera. After a few songs, however, a group of men in black masks and rifles enter the venue—Chucho grows noticeably upset, and walks away from Julia towards the men. The party grows quiet and still as everyone watches Chucho pull an envelope from his pocket and hand it towards one of the men, who nods at Andrés briefly before leaving the party. Julia asks Belén what’s going on, but Belén urges Julia to be quiet and stop asking questions.
The party takes a dark turn as the narcos show up and threaten to bring violence and discord to the celebration. Julia is seeing that there’s a dark side to Los Ojos—and beginning to understand that she’s lucky, in many ways, not to have to face pressure on this scale back in Chicago.