Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Manny

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Manny’s a jerk. That may not be the most academic of observations, but it comes from the heart. And it’s very, very accurate (if I do say so myself). But, to his credit, Manny’s character always reminds me of something very important. Esch is young. So, so young.

A lot of the things Esch says about Manny are very juvenile, teenager-y things to say. But that’s understandable. Because she’s a teenager. She’s only fifteen. That’s very easy to forget, considering all she’s going through.

Esch compares sex to swimming (pg 22) and condoms to chocolate coins (pg 30). It’s when she’s referring to most mature things that she seems the youngest.

The very first reference to Manny in the book is through Esch’s eyes. It’s very adorable and sweet. “Seeing him broke the cocoon of my rib cage, and my heart unfurled to fly.” (pg 5) It’s such a beautiful thing to think about someone else, but also something a child would write in her secret Barbie-pink diary. And it also makes things even more heartbreaking when we actually get to know Manny and find out he’s a jerk.

On pg 16, the very next time we see Manny, he forcefully has sex with Esch. On the next page, Esch describes how kind China is being to her puppies, especially when she expected her to hurt or kill them. Esch sees/experiences these two kinds of love throughout the book: one that’s expected to be kind, but is harsh and one that’s expected to be harsh, but is kind.

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One thought on “Manny

  1. I couldn’t agree more; Manny IS a jerk. However, I would argue that Esch knows it. She’s fully aware of his brutality towards her and longs for it to be otherwise.

    When at the dog fight, amidst the tension and arguing between the boys, Esch sees Manny lean over and whisper to Rico and thinks,
    “I know that whatever Manny is saying is showing the meanness in him, that he is Jason betraying Medea” (172).

    Here, we can see her acknowledgement that there is meanness in him, that he is cruel and manipulating. Yet flash back to the 15 year old girl who longs to be loved and seen and held and as she talks of Medea and Jason, evoking a fantasy world, she begins to suppress the reality.

    I think the dynamic between Manny and Esch is extremely interesting and I’m curious to see how it will all unfold.

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