Danny faces fitful interior struggle with his father’s side of the family. He feels weird that his grandmother was praising him for being a good student and his talents. He feels so awkward because from the environment others grow up in, everyone praises you for the bad boy things you do. Now being praised for being good is something new to him which he hadn’t quite understood yet. Danny feels bad that the adults in the family looks up to him but what he wants are to look up to them as a role model.
Danny doesn’t care about his father’s side of the family status or what they do for a living he loved them just for who they were and wanted to be like them. Now he feels guilty because of his talents for being such a good student and able to speak English and what not. On page 47 (2) “Having the whole family stare at him and his tortilla, these people he adores. That’s when he wishes he didn’t get such good grades. ” Danny wanted to be treated as an equal like everyone he didn’t care about being treated special. He didn’t like it that his grandmother was ashamed of being Mexican.
He wanted to live in the same style they do, he wanted to talk and act like the way his fathers side of the family does. They was what he wanted to be like, they was suppose to be who he looks up to and not the other way around. Danny may be a skinny 16-year-old, but he has long, powerful arms that are made for pitching fastballs. What he doesn’t have is a solid mental game. The emotional instability of his life and his sense of otherness keep him from showing the baseball team at his very white school what he can do.
Danny’s dad, who is Mexican-American, disappeared from his life under mysterious circumstances years ago. Danny doesn’t know where he is, but misses him deeply. It helps that his mom—who is white and still loves his dad although divorced from him—has maintained close ties with Danny’s paternal relatives This summer Danny has chosen to live with his dad’s family in the San Diego suburb of National City. Meanwhile, his mom and sister have moved north to San Francisco and are trying out a new life with his mom’s fiance, a successful white businessman.
Danny is a scholarship student and is a “shade darker than all the white kids at his private high school, Leucadia Prep. Up there, Mexican people do under-the-table yard work and hide out in the hills because they’re in San Diego illegally. Only other people on Leucadia’s campus who share his shade are the lunch-line ladies, the gardeners, the custodians. But whenever Danny comes down here, to National City—where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live—he feels pale. ”
Not only does Danny feel pale in the hood, but he often feels clueless since he speaks only a tiny bit of Spanish and understands only half the jokes that his relatives share in their “random mix of Spanish and English. ” What’s more, “they know he doesn’t quite have the whole picture,” and they mistakenly think this will protect him. Similarly, in Mexican Whiteboy, Danny is a good enough baseball player to be scouted for college and the minor leagues, yet he is taunted by teammates at his school.
While in National City, Danny hones his pitching by practicing with the best street baseball player in the neighborhood, tough Uno who is half black and half Mexican. His father’s side of the family treats Danny as if he is the straight “A,” great white hope who will raise them all up. Expressing pride, his uncle calls him “Mr. Smart Boy,” but Danny wishes he “had called him Mr. Bad Boy instead. ” He longs for sameness, not individuality. Subtle forms of racism It further troubles Danny that his grandmother dotes on him during family meals. [W]hen his grandma passes out homemade tortillas, hot off the griddle, she does it based on family rank. It’s a subtle and unspoken ranking system, but one each and every person in the house understands. And ‘cause he’s so guapo [handsome] and gets such good grades and lives in such a better neighborhood these days—and ‘cause in a weird way Grandma’s almost ashamed of being Mexican—he’s always the first to eat. ” Behind his back he grips his left wrist, digs his fingernails into the skin until a sharp pain floods his mind, makes him feel real. And Danny’s brown. Half-Mexican brown.
A shade darker than all the white kids at his private high school, Leucadia Prep. Up there, Mexican people do under-the-table yard work and hide out in the hills because they’re in San Diego illegally. Only other people on Leucadia’s campus who share his shade are the lunch-line ladies, the gardeners, the custodians. But whenever Danny comes down here, to National City—where his dad grew up, where all his aunts and uncles and cousins still live—he feels pale. A full shade lighter. Albino almost. Upon arriving in Mexico, Danny is frustrated because he does not speak Spanish, and he does not feel like he fits in here either.
When his cousins introduce him to people in their neighborhood Danny gets punched by a boy named Uno. This initial tension prompts a friendship. Over the summer, Danny and Uno find that they have a lot in common. The two boys find ways to earn money together and share adventures in Mexico. In one telling scene, Uno invites Danny to a place at the bottom of a bridge. A train approaches and Uno instructs Danny to hold onto a pillar really tightly. Uno assures Danny that he will be all right if he holds on tight. The train rambles above them and the pillars shake violently.
This is an important scene to show Danny’s ability to trust close relationships. One of the great joys and shared delights among the boys in Mexico is their love of baseball. Danny is an incredibly talented pitcher, so he has much to contribute in this regard. However, he struggles with this too. His uneven pitching is a metaphor for his internal schedules. He has enough talent to be signed by a college recruiter, but he shuts down and loses concentration when he is on the mound. Over time, he “finds” his pitch; he finds his focus.