"A Better Life": The Father-Son relationship

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2012

14 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

1 Introduction:
“A Better Life” – A Father-Son Relationship on its Specific Cultural and Social Background”

2 The Characters of Carlos Galindo and Luis Galindo and the Development of their Father-Son Relationship
2.1 Characterizations
2.1.1 Carlos Galindo
2.1.2 Luis Galindo
2.2 Development of the Father-Son Relationship

3 Conclusion

Works Cited

1 Introduction:
“A Better Life” – A Father-Son Relationship on a Specific Cultural and Social Background”

More than ten million unauthorized immigrants live in the United States according to a report of the United States Department of Homeland Security from January 2010 (cf. Hoefer et. al.). More than six million of the unauthorized immigrants came from Mexico (ibid.).

“Unauthorized immigrants” are defined as all foreign-born non-citizens residing in the United States without permit of residence or valid visa (ibid.). They are also referred to as “illegal immigrants” or “aliens” (cf. Garcia 104). Most illegal immigrants in the United States live in families where the adults are undocumented, but the children were born in the USA and therefore legal U.S. citizens (cf. Passel).

The film “A Better Life” tells a story which is based on such a social background.

It is the story of Carlos Galindo, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, and his son Luis, who is a legal U.S. citizen, because he was born in the United States (cf. A Better Life 2011). The film was directed by Chris Weitz and published in the USA in June 2011 (cf. ibid.). The film is set in East Los Angeles, a district of the City of Los Angeles which is mainly inhabited by people of Mexican descent (cf. Garcia 82).

This term paper concentrates on the father-son relationship between Carlos and Luis Galindo and its development over the course of the film. Following this introduction, the first part of the second chapter contains the characterizations of Carlos Galindo and his son Luis. The characterizations show the core characteristics and attitudes of the two main characters.

The characterization of Carlos Galindo focuses on his status as an illegal immigrant, his personal American Dream and his Mexican culture. The characterization of Luis Galindo focuses on his social situation within his clique and in his school, the risk of becoming involved in a gang and his problems with his family situation. All these points are also considered against the backdrop of adolescence. It is important to understand the backgrounds of both, father and son, as this deeply influences their relationship.

The second part of the second chapter links the two characters and is concerned with their father-son relationship. The relationship of Carlos and Luis undergoes a development during the film which is described and explained in this part of the term paper.

Eventually, the conclusion sums up the important events for Carlos’ and Luis’ father-son relationship. It also compares the important changes of the characters and tries to give an outlook how the story could possibly continue.

2 The Characters of Carlos Galindo and Luis Galindo and the Development of their Father-Son Relationship

2.1 Characterizations

2.1.1 Carlos Galindo

The first minutes of the film “A Better Life” (cf. 00:54-03:29) show Carlos Galindo as a hard working gardener, who is very exhausted after his day of work (cf. ibid. 03:56: “I’m tired. Go to bed.”). He has worked for Blasco Rodriguez for about six years (cf. ibid. 07:13). Blasco is also Mexican. Working for Blasco is an improvement for Carlos because before, he had to work as a day labourer (cf. ibid.) The work as a day labourer means “Begging for work with all the other desperate wetbacks. Duckin’ La Migra. Not knowing where . . . [his] next dollar’s gonna come.”(ibid. 07.15ff.).

The audience gets to know that Carlos is an illegal immigrant (cf. ibid.: “Duckin’ La Migra”). Some time earlier, he has tried to get his papers and has paid all his money to a lawyer to help him (cf. ibid. 11:35). That shows how important it is for Carlos to become a legal resident of the United States. He was out of luck and has lost all his money without getting his documents for legal residence (cf. ibid.). His illegal status is a heavy burden for him. He constantly fears to be discovered (cf. ibid. 11:42: “What if the cops stop me for a broken tail light? . . . And then, what’ll happen to Luis?”). In these first fifteen minutes of the film, Carlos Galindo does not appear as someone who fights against his fate (cf. ibid. 12:43ff.: “When you leave, I’m just gonna find another job. I’ll stay quiet, keep my head down and try to stay invisible.”).

Blasco plans to return to his homeland in the near future and so he asks Carlos to buy his truck and his tools from him, to take over his customers and to become his own boss (cf. ibid. 07:24ff.). Carlos wishes “more than anything to buy the truck” but he does not have the money (cf. 11.26ff.).

In this film, the truck is a symbol for the American Dream. If Carlos cannot buy the truck from Blasco and Blasco sells the truck to someone else, Carlos would lose his relatively safe job and he would have to work as a day labourer again (cf. ibid. 07:13). Blasco explains the important role of the truck for Carlos future in a very explicit way: “You ain’t just buyin’ a truck, or a business. What you’re buyin’ is the American Dream!” (cf. ibid. 07:54ff.) In his opinion, the truck is the only chance for Carlos to become legal and improve his living situation (cf. ibid. 12:32: “Buy the truck! In a few months, you’ll have enough money to hire a real killer lawyer.”).


Excerpt out of 14 pages


"A Better Life": The Father-Son relationship
University of Duisburg-Essen  (Nordamerikastudien)
Crossing Borders - Mexican-American Border in American Literature
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
511 KB
Mexican-American Border, Illegal Immigrants
Quote paper
Britta Küthen (Author), 2012, "A Better Life": The Father-Son relationship, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/232613


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