Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida Summary & Study Guide

Victor Martinez
This Study Guide consists of approximately 47 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Parrot in the Oven.
This section contains 670 words
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Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida Summary & Study Guide Description

Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez.

In Parrot in the Oven: Mi Vida, written by Victor Martinez, is the coming of age story of Manuel Hernandez. Manuel, who is also known as Manny, is a young boy growing up in the projects. He lives with his parents, one brother, and two sisters. His father says that Manny is like a parrot in an oven who sits in the shade and complains about the heat. Though the saying is usually indicative of a person who is stupid, Manny's father is using it to describe Manny's trusting nature. He says that Manny is too naïve about the true character of people. Manny sometimes exhibits a deep understanding of others; but, he also gets into a dangerous situation by trusting too much.

Manny's father has been out of work for some time as the story opens. He hates the idea of being dependent on “the welfare,” which means the family struggle financially. Manny's mother, Rebecca, hates that her husband is willing to refuse help while his family is in such a serious situation. When Manny's father is floundering with no real direction in his life, he often goes to Rico's Pool Hall. Rebecca compares that to pouring milk down the drain, meaning he is wasting money the family needs for necessities. At one point, Rebecca forces Manny to go with her to make Manny's father come home. She embarrasses her husband in front of the men he considers to be his peers and the fight erupts into violence. Manny's father chases his wife with a gun, and the police arrive to arrest him. Rebecca seems glad to have her husband arrested; but, she's excited when he's served his time and returns home. They pledge to do better toward each other and their responsibilities. Manny's father does find a job.

Manny has an older sister named Magda. Magda works hard at a laundry on a job she hates. She is interested in boys, though her mother tries to keep her from having a boyfriend. One day, Magda arrives home in serious pain, and Rebecca realizes that her daughter is having a miscarriage. Manny is worried about his sister. He sees the tiny fetus that is born very premature and dead on the bathroom floor. They go to the emergency room where they are forced to wait for a long time along with others in dire need of medical attention. It's obvious that the system is overtaxed and the people in need of health care are paying a heavy price. Later, Magda is feverish and ill, but Rebecca says there's no money to take her back to the doctor.

Manny's older brother is named Bernado, whom everyone calls Nardo. Nardo is known as a lazy person because he tries to get out of work when he can. When Manny and Nardo are tasked with cleaning their grandmother's garden, Nardo is the first to quit the job. Later, Nardo gets a job delivering medicine for a drug store and seems to be working harder at taking responsibility for himself.

Manny continues to attend school and his grades are good. His mother briefly tries to send him to a better school but it doesn't work out. Manny sees some other students who get better classes and educational opportunities, and he wishes he could have those things.

He becomes involved with a group of boys who are loosely affiliated but have no established gang ties. One day, one of them shoves an older woman down and steals money from her purse. Manny is caught off-guard by the act and chases his friend down the street. When the police arrive, it's obvious that someone thought Manny was trying to chase down the thief. He recognizes that it was a near miss with the police. He returns home to find Magda asleep on the couch with their younger sister, Pedi. Manny takes a seat and watches the girls sleep. He realizes that this is what is most important in his life.

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