Brando Skyhorse’s first novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, set in Echo Park, Los Angeles, portrays the lives, thoughts and feelings of eight different and diverse characters. All of them expose their direct link to the space they inhabit: the barrio. Parting from the premise that the link between space and identity is inextricable, and the fact that the general living conditions and access to different resources is scarce in many U.S. Latino quarters, the aim of this essay is to observe whether the way the characters experience this space affects their personal identity and relation to dignity and honor. Particularly, the way barrio life affects and shapes the personality of male characters. For this purpose, we will employ Alfredo Mirandé’s conceptualization of Chicano masculinity, characterized by a strong sense of honor, dignity and pride, among other things. We thus will observe whether a tough environment produces tough men.
Chicano literature; Space; Barrio; Identity; Masculinity