Spare Parts

by

Joshua Davis

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Lorenzo Santillan Character Analysis

One of the four students who compete in the MATE competition as a part of the Carl Hayden robotics club, along with Cristian, Oscar, and Luis. Lorenzo was brought to the United States by his mother Laura because he needed better medical attention for a head injury that he experienced as an infant. In the U.S., Laura is supportive of Lorenzo, but his father Pablo can sometimes be abusive. Lorenzo goes through elementary school and high school largely looking for a group of people to which he can belong. He has an odd-shaped head and grows a long mullet, which leads many students to tease him. He tries to join a gang, and when that fails, he attempts to join the marching band. When that also proves unsuccessful, he watches his godfather Hugo work in a makeshift auto repair shop, observing how he makes creative uses of the tools he has. Lorenzo soon meets Fredi, who takes him under his wing and introduces him to the robotics club. In the club, Lorenzo takes the lead on coming up with cheap, practical, and creative solutions on how to build the robot: for instance, engineering a water sampling mechanism with a balloon and a sump pump, or coming up with the idea to use tampons to soak up leaking water. After the competition, Lorenzo’s family is evicted from their home, and like Cristian, he finds that his potential mostly stagnates. He goes to culinary school and starts a catering business with Luis, but still has to pick up odd jobs to make ends meet.

Lorenzo Santillan Quotes in Spare Parts

The Spare Parts quotes below are all either spoken by Lorenzo Santillan or refer to Lorenzo Santillan. 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:
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition of Spare Parts published in 2014.
Introduction Quotes

There were teams from across the country, including students from MIT, who were sponsored by ExxonMobil, the world's largest publicly traded company. The Latino kids were from Carl Hayden Community High School in West Phoenix.

Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

As a NASA employee, she had become accustomed to working with engineers who conformed to a sort of industry standard: white, well educated, conservative clothes. These four teenagers standing in front of her signaled that the future looked different.

Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
One Quotes

The chief lesson Lorenzo learned was that it was important to be creative. Hugo wasn’t running a normal mechanic’s shop, with a wall full of tools and shelves filled with supplies. He had little money, a small set of hand tools, and his ingenuity. To survive, he had to come up with fresh ideas and adapt.

Related Characters: Lorenzo Santillan, Hugo
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

I've got to create something that doesn't compete with other science centers; it's got to compete with the World Series and the Super Bowl. I’ve got to find a way to make science and technology cool.

Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorenzo felt his father didn’t have any respect for him, Hugo wouldn’t let him use the tools in the driveway, and the kids around school mocked him for his strange looks. Now a teacher was entrusting him with the lives of a handful of fish. To most people, it might not seem like a lot, but to Lorenzo it was unprecedented.

Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
Two Quotes

The whole point was to give the guys a chance to accomplish something beyond what they thought possible. But if they showed up at the event and failed utterly, it would only reinforce the impression that they didn't belong in the contest in the first place. That could leave a kid such as Lorenzo with a permanent sense of inferiority.

Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

For Lorenzo, the robotics team was like a new family. In some respects, Fredi and Allan were surrogate parents, constantly advising him and pushing him to do better. […] A team spirit had developed. Lorenzo wasn't the only one sitting in the front row of his classes.

Page Number: 113
Explanation and Analysis:

To Fredi, this was a battle for the future of an unusual but talented kid. He appreciated Lorenzo's offbeat ideas and felt that the long-haired goofball had genuine talent. But Lorenzo was caught in the tractor-beam pull of poverty and low expectations.

Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

Fredi was impressed. It was a practical, cheap, and ingenious solution. […]

“You did it,” Fredi said, clapping Lorenzo on the shoulder.

Lorenzo responded with a big smile. “I did it.”

Related Characters: Lorenzo Santillan (speaker), Fredi Lajvardi (speaker), Oscar Vazquez, Cristian Arcega
Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

“It needs a name,” Lorenzo said.
Oscar remembered Lorenzo’s choking on the glue fumes and suggested, “Why don’t we call it Stinky?”

Related Characters: Oscar Vazquez (speaker), Lorenzo Santillan (speaker), Cristian Arcega, Luis Aranda
Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

The group also offered some of the same benefits of being in a gang. Now that he hung out with Luis on campus, Lorenzo found that other students were less likely to make fun of him.

Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Three Quotes

It reminded them that they were doing something they had never done before. In Phoenix, they were called illegal aliens and pegged as criminals. They were alternately viewed as American, Mexican, or neither. Now, for a moment, they were simply teenagers at a robotics competition by the ocean.

Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

But in this moment, Oscar realized that Lorenzo was intensely committed. Good engineering solutions had value. But, to Oscar, doing things that no one else wanted to do, toughing it out and being a soldier, that's what counted.

Related Characters: Oscar Vazquez, Lorenzo Santillan
Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

Stinky represented this low-tech approach to engineering. But that was exactly what had impressed the judges.

Related Symbols: Stinky the Robot
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:
Four Quotes

“If the really long list of immigrant inventors who have made this country and the world a much better place is to stop here and now, we will also likely become the newest declining nation,” one reader commented.

Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:

In reality, life is more complicated. The attention paid to the team as a result of their victory coincided with a backlash against immigrants in Arizona.

Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Spare Parts LitChart as a printable PDF.
Spare Parts PDF

Lorenzo Santillan Character Timeline in Spare Parts

The timeline below shows where the character Lorenzo Santillan appears in Spare Parts. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
On June 25, 2004, Cristian Arcega, Lorenzo Santillan, Oscar Vazquez, and Luis Aranda stand in a classroom at the University of California,... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
...the highest level, and their presence in the competition almost seems like a mistake. But Lorenzo, another team member, is proud of what they’ve built. (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...as the team’s de facto leader. Oscar is seventeen (two years older than Cristian and Lorenzo) and has been serving in Carl Hayden’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) throughout high... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Cristian answers most of Swean and Spence’s questions, but Spence also notes that Lorenzo and Oscar are able to speak intelligently about their robot’s mechanical and electronic components. About... (full context)
One
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Davis jumps to describing Lorenzo’s early childhood. When he is a few months old, his mother Laura accidentally drops him... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Laura finds a doctor in Phoenix, who tells her that Lorenzo seems to be doing fine. The doctor could perform a cosmetic surgery, but it would... (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...and there are a lot more opportunities in the United States. The family (Laura, Pablo, Lorenzo, and his older brother José) moves to a two-room apartment near downtown Phoenix. Laura gets... (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...three children will have significantly more opportunities to live and work in the U.S. than Lorenzo and José. (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...a twelve-pack of beer and works his way through it. Sometimes he is kind to Lorenzo; other times, he abuses him. (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
At school, Lorenzo is often mocked for his odd-shaped head. Lorenzo embraces the fact that he is different... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
In seventh grade, a friend asks Lorenzo to carry marijuana for a local gang. He stashes it in his backpack and leaves... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Instead, Lorenzo tries to join the marching band. He learns piano pieces by ear, but the band... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Lorenzo returns the xylophone and does not return to band. He is desperate to find friends,... (full context)
Mentorship Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
After school, Lorenzo helps his godfather Hugo fix cars in the makeshift auto repair shop he has set... (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...government isn’t doing enough to turn back Mexicans. And so, for kids like Cristian and Lorenzo, getting good grades might have been the least of their problems. (full context)
Mentorship Theme Icon
...he stops coaching and shuts down the electric car program. In 2003, Cristian, Oscar, and Lorenzo walk into his science classroom. (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Cristian sees Lorenzo hanging around the lab and assumes he’s just another loud jokester. But Fredi sees that... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Fredi then invites Lorenzo to McDonald’s. Lorenzo is speechless: no one has ever taken him to a restaurant before.... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
In the fall of 2003, Lorenzo and Cristian both sign up for the 7:00 a.m. robotics club class. Together with Michael... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...the contest, Fredi tells the group that they will leave at six the next morning. Lorenzo accidentally sleeps in and misses the van by just two minutes. He’s furious with himself... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
At the pumpkin field, neither Cristian nor Oscar miss Lorenzo much. Both of them think that there’s no excuse for being late. When the competition... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...is nice that the team seems to want his help. He doesn’t know Cristian or Lorenzo, but he does know Oscar, who is friendly to him despite his intimidating size and... (full context)
Two
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...Florida, and then the captain was rescued by a Spanish-speaking fisherman named Pedro Sanchez—which captures Lorenzo’s attention. (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...great robot. Fredi says they can aim not to finish last, trying to be realistic. Lorenzo giggles, saying that should be their motto: “Don’t finish last.” (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
...lot more than that. Fredi prints up brochures asking people to donate to the club. Lorenzo asks a cousin to donate to his underwater-robotics competition, but she thinks that he’s joking... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Lorenzo thinks of the simplest approach: a length of string. He and Cristian go back and... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Oscar agrees that this could work; Lorenzo beams with pride. Cristian points out that it won’t work for depth, though, because there’s... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...the kids’ ingenuity and excitement. He offers to let them borrow one of his devices. Lorenzo is speechless: no one has ever given him anything of significant value before. He never... (full context)
Mentorship Theme Icon
While working on the project, Lorenzo rarely does his homework, as it seems meaningless to him. As a result, he receives... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Spurred by Fredi’s rule, Lorenzo starts studying. He sits in the front row during class and does all his homework.... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
...the thermocouple, the range finder, and the pincer in their model. Then, he, Cristian, and Lorenzo strategize about how to build the real ROV. Metal will be more compact, but expensive.... (full context)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...to Home Depot and buys twenty dollars’ worth of PVC pipe. Luis, Cristian, Oscar, and Lorenzo gather in the robotics closet. Cristian sketches out the ROV and calculates the amount of... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...have a thinner cable tether to their controls, stabilize the robot, and limit voltage loss. Lorenzo says that the idea is “badass.” Oscar is nervous, but when Cristian says that if... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
For Lorenzo, the robotics team feels like family, with Fredi and Allan as surrogate parents. A team... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Even though Lorenzo has now found a family, the rest of the school still taunts him. One day... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
At home, Lorenzo’s dad Pablo notices his swollen eye and offers to beat the kid up. Lorenzo is... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Fredi tracks Lorenzo down and tells him to stop fighting. He explains that he was beat up in... (full context)
Mentorship Theme Icon
Fredi tells Lorenzo that the next time someone wants to fight him, he should pretend to have a... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
...and Cristian are pretty sure the task will be impossible, so they assign it to Lorenzo. Other Explorer class teams consider using techniques like vacuum-sealed containers and screw-activated syringes, or a... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
Back in the robotics closet, Lorenzo experiments, gluing PVC fittings to the pump and affixing the copper pipe so that it... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
Lorenzo tries affixing the balloon in a variety of ways, but each time the balloon falls... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Lorenzo’s mother Laura asks him to read a letter that arrived for them in English. Lorenzo... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...have bought needs to be cut, and so the team buys a pipe cutter. Cristian, Lorenzo, and Oscar discover that they’re not strong enough to cut the pipe. They have to... (full context)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...the students begin the ROV project, Dean Kamen releases his annual FIRST challenge. Cristian, Oscar, Lorenzo, and Luis are part of a larger team participating in the FIRST challenge at Carl... (full context)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...together and then start working to figure out how to build and program their robot. Lorenzo suggests that they build a robot that only does the final task. At first the... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
When the next round begins, the robot rolls straight to the pull-up bar. Lorenzo flips the switch to activate the broom. The robot clips on, and soon dangles off... (full context)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...into their robot, and surprisingly, it works. The robot starts rolling toward the pull-up bar. Lorenzo claps Cristian on the back and tells him that that was “frictastic.” (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...to the controller. They also had developed a short-hand language for certain tools and pieces. Lorenzo sees this shorthand as a new kind of gang slang and sees how the team... (full context)
Mentorship Theme Icon
Outside of robotics, Lorenzo loves watching his mother Laura cook, and he wants to learn more about cooking. Another... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...fumes, racing to glue the pieces because the glue dries quickly. As they are gluing, Lorenzo says, “Damn, that’s stinky.” (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
Lorenzo has an idea. They’re not off by much—they could bend the pipe using the electric... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
...not a problem and marvels at the unusual crew filing into her facility: Cristian, Luis, Lorenzo, Oscar, Fredi, Allan, and Michael Hanck, who is there to help pilot the robot. (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...he couldn’t get his grades above a B average, he couldn’t be on the team. Lorenzo mans the sensor controls: the claw, the cameras, and the water-sampling pump. (full context)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...buoyant. But it still tilts forward too much—they need something to keep its nose up. Lorenzo pulls an empty bottle of sunscreen out of a nearby trash can. They tie it... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
Lorenzo, meanwhile, tries to fix some of the robot’s aesthetics. The blue glue has dripped onto... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Mentorship Theme Icon
...of their drivers. The team decides that Oscar has to be the other driver, as Lorenzo is operating the sensors and Luis is needed by the edge of the pool to... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...2004, the team assembles at 4:00 a.m. at Carl Hayden to drive to Santa Barbara. Lorenzo jogs up last, assuring everyone that he’s coming and on time. They start hauling everything... (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
When they cross the border to California, Lorenzo sees laborers picking watermelons in fields and falls silent. The realtor helped pay off their... (full context)
Three
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
When Lorenzo sees MIT’s expensive robot, predominantly white team, and matching shirts, they look like the embodiment... (full context)
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
The kids are shy at first, but then Lorenzo approaches a man who looks like a professor, asking if he would like to hear... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Curiosity, Creativity, and Adventure Theme Icon
...a brainstorming session. They need something that’s small and superabsorbent to soak up the moisture. Lorenzo thinks about possible options and suggests a tampon. Fredi says it’s a perfect idea. (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
After dinner, Oscar pushes Lorenzo into a grocery store to buy the tampons. He approaches a woman, who at first... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...reconnect them, which will take hours. Oscar volunteers to stay up and do it, and Lorenzo offers to join him. Oscar feels real respect for Lorenzo. They have to take the... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
By the time Oscar and Lorenzo have completed fifty wires, it is two in the morning. They take a quick break,... (full context)
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
Luis stays by the pool while Cristian, Oscar and Lorenzo monitor Stinky on their video screens from the control tent. Cristian notes a mockup of... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Teamwork, Friendship, and Motivation Theme Icon
...paint can—and Oscar and Cristian are able to get their sampling pipe into the can. Lorenzo can’t believe it, and he flips the switch to pump the liquid out. They pilot... (full context)
Four
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
In May 2006, Lorenzo graduates from high school, but his father Pablo doesn’t show up to the ceremony. He... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...year in Mexico. Allan and Debbie throw him a big welcome-home party in their backyard. Lorenzo and Luis bring the food. Oscar’s return has also drawn a lot of media attention,... (full context)
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
...executive order deferring the deportation of immigrants who would have qualified for the DREAM Act. Lorenzo and Cristian apply for protection under the order, which buys them temporary safety. But, as... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
The movie provides a happy ending. It even shows Lorenzo’s father Pablo arriving at the MATE awards ceremony, hugging Lorenzo and crying with joy. Davis... (full context)
Underdogs and Overcoming Odds Theme Icon
Immigration, Prejudice, and the American Dream Theme Icon
Ten years after beating MIT, Lorenzo works as a cook at an upscale restaurant in Phoenix. Oscar completed his tour in... (full context)