A month after prom, Papi comes home one day with an old yellow Datsun he has purchased for Carlos. Carlos is elated, and the two of them immediately head out for a drive. Mago dismisses the car as a piece of junk, but Reyna secretly hopes that when she starts college, Papi will buy her a car too. Even if it is old and rickety, if it comes from her Papi, she knows she will cherish it.
Papi’s gifts of junk elate and delight his children. They receive so little from him that anything he gives them takes on a sheen of near-holiness, blinding them to the ways in which he is a totally insufficient parent.
Carlos has a girlfriend whose name is Griselda, and he is crazy about her. One day, Carlos announces that he no longer wants to pursue a college education and a degree in criminal justice—he wants to settle down with Griselda and marry her. Carlos asks Papi to come with him to Griselda’s family’s house to ask for her hand in marriage, but Papi refuses, insisting that Carlos go to school. Papi tries to remind Carlos of how many people would die—and literally have died—to be in Carlos’s shoes, with a world of opportunity in front of him. Carlos, however, says he doesn’t care—he is going to get married.
Carlos, too, is looking for love to fill the void left by his painful and abusive home life. Love is so important to him that he abandons his dreams—and Papi’s—of pursuing an education. This enrages Papi, who is unable to see the ways in which his abuse, disinterest, and cruelty is affecting his children and their choices.
Mago and Reyna, too, try to talk Carlos out of the marriage, but he won’t listen to his sisters, either. Eventually, Carlos enlists Mami to go with him to Griselda’s house to ask for her hand, and just a month after his twentieth birthday, Carlos becomes a married man. Eighteen months—and one son—later, Reyna writes, Carlos will get divorced, but he will never finish college.
Though Reyna doesn’t delve into detail, it seems clear that Carlos’s relationship with his new wife fails so quickly as a result of Carlos’s difficult home life, and perhaps his inability to handle adult relationships.