Friday, February 4, 2011

1974 by Noah

1974 by Noah

Noah Fox

1974: I-Migrant Hotel

1: Grass Roots

There are two main characters featured in this novella: Felix and Macario. Felix is a resident of the I-hotel and Macario is the VP of the I-hotel tenants’ association. Felix educates students about the unionized grape pickers in California. He reminisces about his early years spent picking crops and organizing before WWII. He fights to get union contracts in each agricultural region of the west coast.

“what makes men men are women” 431

If they became unionized what would happen to them, would they have benefits? Would they become part of the successful Filipinos who moved out to Daly City?

2: Halo-Halo

Several years later Macario and Felix discuss strikes 5 years earlier. They talked about how Cesar Chavez tried to stage a hunger strike. The two mention in conversation how Macario wanted to create a third world college and that when that failed he returned to the idea of helping out farmhands. Felix returns to see the I-hotel. At a mayoral event in 1969 commemorating the San Francisco earthquake Macario and his crew rush the stage to protest the closing of the I-hotel. Felix talks with one of the other residents about the old days when they would romance girls all up and down the west coast and about how now they all live in $50/month rooms in the hotel. The entire chapter is focused on past events, and the reader is unsure what is currently going on in Felix and Macario’s lives.

“How come Magellan comes to bother folks like us in faraway lands? It’s to make their food taste better” 441

3: Pig Roast

Macario brings the ashes of a former hotel resident, Pio, who died in a fire. The other residents of the Hotel think that the ghost of Pio is still residing in the building, haunting them. The residents decide to roast a pig, and an argument breaks out among them about the best recipe; Hawaiian or Pinoy. Eventually they decide to cook two pigs, one in each style and have a competition. They go off into the country to buy the two pigs. They fleetingly decide to go hunting instead, but when this proves fruitless they purchase two slaughtered hogs. The two pigs are roasted in a park habituated by vagrants, the Pinoy pig eventually catches fire but the fire department hoses it down. The competition is forgotten and both groups enjoy the meals.

“’Special pepper and herb seasoning,’ I say “‘Trust me’” 452

Is the pig roasting competition a metaphor for rivalry between different groups in the hotel, or an effort to regain cultural knowledge?

Why did the residents pour Pio’s ashes on the Pig?

4: Empty Soup

Abra’s twins are named Emilio and Andrea after two Philippine nationalists. Abra explains how her mother is still in the Philippines but cannot visit because of the current political situation there. Abra describes a scene where she was accosted by soldiers while boarding a plane out of the Philippines. The two, Felix and Abra make a soup that contains nothing but hot water for the twins. Abra gets a job working in a factory and tries to organize the workers into the union. The members of the hotel decide to create a long list of opposite words that they could turn into a poem. Felix tries to have sex with Abra and it is revealed that she is a lesbian. Felix finally makes a soup with real ingredients.

“I’m telling you this because I think you’re my friend and like my father.” 468

What is the true nature of Abra’s and Felix’s relationship?

5: Rations

Macario, Joe and Felix all go to a strip club. They talk about the old days, in which they both fought in the US army. Joe explains how he ended up fighting with guerillas. He describes the loss of Bataan to Macario. It is revealed that Joe was a war hero and liberated American POWs. Later, Abra has an altercation with Joe where she tries to get him to improve the conditions of the Hotel. It is revealed that Joe has been squirrelling away money from the residents and they kick him out. The explanation is that his suffering during the war has made him self-centered.

“We gonna figure this out today, but we got to write it down” 464

What does Joe’s leaving mean about the ability of the I-hotel residents to organize?

6:Ng Ka Py

One of Felix’s friends, Wen introduces Felix to a bunch of literature. Felix has a special drink of his own creation that he brews and claims to have given to Steinbeck to help him write. Wen is a professor at SF state. Macario and Felix hang out and leave Macario’s newly renovated car in Daly City, where most of the Filipinos now live. The city is trying to obtain the I-hotel through eminent domain and the community is rallying to save it.

“ The rich got a problem, they can always sell it to another rich guy who needs that problem to solve another problem.” 481

This chapter continues the novella’s food theme. Why did the author choose this as a method to tell this portion of the movement?

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