Ibarra’s family history is intertwined with the village of San Diego. Legends circulate throughout the town about the resting place of his great-grandfather, an old Spanish man who came to San Diego years ago, bought the forest from people who falsely claimed to own it, retreated into the woods, and hung himself from a banana tree. Not long afterward, Ibarra’s grandfather appeared and built a wall around the grave, married a woman from Manila, and fathered Don Rafael. Don Rafael inherited his father’s farm and quickly gained respect from his workers as the town of San Diego grew into what it is today.
It’s no surprise that Ibarra’s relationship with the citizens of San Diego is complicated, since his family history brings with it both disrespect and honor. On the one hand, his great-grandfather’s suicide is seen as dishonorable (especially since suicide goes against Christian doctrine). On the other, his father worked to establish the town’s first successful farm. In both cases, though, the community holds Ibarra’s family members at a distance, either exalting or rejecting them, but never simply allowing them to be normal citizens.