Buried Onions Summary

Gary Soto

Buried Onions

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Buried Onions Summary

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Buried Onions is a work of young adult fiction by Gary Soto, an acclaimed author, poet, and essayist from Fresno California. Like Gary Soto, the book’s main character Eddie is also from Fresno. As Buried Onions opens, Eddie has lost his father, his cousin, and also his best friend.

Being a rough place, Fresno offers all kinds of temptations and negative influences for Eddie. His neighborhood is so poor and crime ridden that Eddie often feels like there is no hope for a better life. He describes the situation as if there is a giant Onion under the ground, creating an atmosphere of sorrow and tears for everyone in his neighborhood.

As he longs to escape the violent neighborhood that troubles him, Eddie one day lands a job doing landscaping for a man named Mr. Stiles. This jobs takes Eddie to a world that is much different from the one he is used to. This affluent neighborhood is on the North side of town and is clean, safe, and new.

Eddie’s relationship with his boss Mr. Stiles is a good one, the two of them get along well and Eddie eventually earns his trust. As an example of this trust, Mr. Stiles allows Eddie to borrow his truck. However, this turn of seemingly good fortune turns out badly as the truck is stolen outside Eddie’s home in the barrio.

When Eddie explains the situation to Mr. Stiles, Mr. Stiles doesn’t believe him and thinks that Eddie stole the truck. Nothing is going right for Eddie, not even his romantic life as he is pestered by his aunt and mother to go on a date with a girl named Norma.

Although he isn’t interested, Eddie does go on the date with Norma and finds out that Angel, a character Eddie prefers to avoid, is the one who killed his cousin, Jesus. Eddie assures Norma that he won’t tell anyone who told him this.

Later, Eddie’s friend Jose, who is a Marine, comes to visit him. The two of them discover the stolen truck belonging to Mr. Stiles and Eddie’s Marine friend tries to get it back. A fight breaks out and Eddie’s friend is stabbed by the truck thieves.

During these events, Eddie begins to realize that he can’t stay in his neighborhood if he wants to survive. He has to leave.

Hoping to hide from the truck thieves, Eddie goes to his aunt’s house. At his aunt’s house he discovers that her dog Queenie needs to be put to sleep. Eddie is asked to take the dog to the pound and have it put to sleep. He is given a donation to give the pound but decides to keep half of it.

Hoping to check on his stabbed friend, Eddie goes to the hospital but he finds that Angel is there. The two of them get into an altercation.

Needing help, Eddie goes to his old coach who advises him that visiting a Navy recruiter and joining the Navy would be a good way for him to escape the cycle of violence that his life is currently stuck in. Eddie’s coach tells him that Mr. Stiles has asked him to return to work for him.

Returning to Mr. Stiles, Eddie finds that the cops have come for him. The police also believe that it was Eddie who had beaten up and old man at a laundromat earlier.

Eddie is questioned by the police and they eventually believe him that he is innocent. Though it is probably too late, he receives an apology from his former employer Mr. Stiles.

When Eddie’s Marine friend, Jose, is released from the hospital, the two of them plus Eddie’s coach go fishing at the river. Later, believing Angel killed his cousin, Eddie goes to confront him. At Angel’s house a fight breaks out.

Later, Eddie sees that joining the Navy really might be his only way out and decides to sign up. On the way to the Naval Air Station, the recruit’s van breaks down. As they wait for assistance, Eddie is given two onions and reflects on his childhood and everything that he is leaving behind.

Buried Onions is a sometimes bleak book about the hardships of life in poor and violence-ridden neighborhoods. The book’s theme of trying but failing to escape this violence is well represented in the conflicted character of Eddie. Eddie tries to avoid the dangers of Fresno but ends up realizing that the only way he can fully break the cycle of violence is by leaving the city altogether.