Have your students research Bless Me, Ultima (1972), the most frequently taught Latino juvenile book and one of the first Chicano books to enter the American literary canon. Ask them to explore why this novel is so popular with junior high and high school readers.
The antics in Anaya's "The Christmas Play" are reminiscent of the slapstick comedy of the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. If possible, show the class a Three Stooges episode and ask them to analyze it beyond the physical comedy. Many of the Three Stooges episodes have a background of the Stooges looking for work or food during the depression, which leads to their getting into trouble. Have the students discuss the film clip in that context. Another comparison to the comedy in this story is the traditional actos from the early days of the Teatro Campesino. Some of the actos of Luis Valdez contained comic figures that satirized the roles Chicanos were relegated to as irrelevant and stereotypical. Examining Anaya's story in this light might offer interesting insights into its meaning and purpose.
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