Chicano Letrado: The Native Informant as Writer in Pocho

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Juan R. Buriel


José Antonio Villarreal’s novel Pocho, originally published in 1959 and arguably the first work of Chicano literature, captures in its protagonist, Richard Rubio, the dilemmas of an emerging culture’s native informants. As a Chicano native informant specifically, Richard Rubio unwittingly aides in overturning his community’s cultural silence by disclosing knowledge about what it is like to be silent – what it is like to be subaltern.. Such cultural knowledge is disclosed to both other characters within the story and, of course, to readers of the novel themselves. The native informant of Pocho, who is an aspiring writer himself, must negotiate between his culture’s declining oral tradition and the more public and authoritative written tradition to which he is attracted. What is particularly noteworthy about Pocho’s contemporary landmark status in Chicano literature is that it very much stands as a narrative – and thus, arguably, the first künstlerroman of contemporary Chicano literature – about the making of the Chicano writer.

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Buriel, J. (2019). Chicano Letrado: The Native Informant as Writer in Pocho. Humanities Bulletin, 2(1), 160-174. Retrieved from