Crossing the Wire Summary

Will Hobbs

Crossing the Wire

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Crossing the Wire Summary

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Will Hobbs, the author of Crossing the Wire, shines a light on a very significant and common issue in the United States through beautiful imagery and simple yet poetic writing: the issue of illegal immigration. Portrayed through the eyes of a young fifteen-year-old Mexican boy, Victor Flores, Hobbs tells the story of struggling with poverty and being forced to “cross the wire” into the United States, in search for a better life. After his father died, Victor finds himself the provider of his family, despite the fact that on the surface they seem to be doing okay, however, ever since they moved to the small city of Los Arboles, making a living growing their corn crops has not been very fruitful.

The story begins with Victor and his longtime friend Rico, talking about their lives, when Rico shows him a jar filled with mysterious bills – American money, one thousand five hundred worth. Victor has never seen that much money, especially since he knows that that amount could feed his family for over a year, but Rico tells him that his brother sent it to him, and Rico is to use it to pay for the “coyote,” a person who smuggles people across the borders from Mexico, and that gives Victor something to think about: would he want to go to el Norte? (the North, to America).

Rico begins to plan his escape from Mexico, and Victor begs his friend to stay, however Rico has made up his mind. With his best friend about to leave, Victor wonders if he should also help his family and go North. He won’t even be able to afford to pay the coyote, but maybe he can find another way. His decision is made for him when he discovers that not only would his family’s corn harvest barely cut it, but also prices for corn had bottomed out, and there wouldn’t be any point to even plant corn that year, and so he heads up North.

To start his journey, Victor’s priest and family friend gives him some money, which he uses to get a bus ticket to Guadalajara, his first step to traveling Northwards. The bus is stopped and everyone is thrown off, so because he has no money to cross with his friend Rico and the coyotes, he meets people along the way by jumping trains. On the first train he jumps to he meets Julio, a man also going North, but from Honduras, and they talk about what they are both going to do when they finally get to the United States. After the train stops, they still have a long way to go, but no more money, so Julio and Victor try to get jobs with no luck – at least not at first. They end up in a soup kitchen where two people give them some money. Julio uses the money to grab a tube North, and that is when they go their separate ways as Victor gets on another bus.

On the bus Victor meets the mysterious Miguel, a man who had experienced harsh treatment from border patrols throughout his travels. Victor speaks with him endlessly about opportunities for work and a better life on the other side. Miguel states: “In Mexico, if you are born poor, there are no branches within reach, and the trunk is coated with lard,” when speaking of the opportunities most people have in the states, as well as the advantages children have from just being born there. Nearing their destination, Miguel and Victor reach the mountains, but that is where the border patrol spots them and begin to chase them, Miguel gets caught, but Victor escapes the mountains, climbing on the back of a fisherman’s truck. The fisherman sees Victor, and invites him over to his home, and he calls the border patrol, and has them escort Victor to the border, where to his surprise, he is set free into the United States by border patrol officials.

Victor ends up joining his friend Rico when he finally reached Arizona, meeting up later along the way at a soup kitchen. Victor has reached the destination, so he feels he can finally find a job to help provide for his family. Having thought that they made it, they begin searching for Rico’s brother, who is not in the place he thought he was. Lost, broke and with nowhere to go, the two head up to Washington state, on another lengthy journey, and become farmers there. Victor makes a little bit of money cutting asparagus, and is able to send his family some of it, but he feels out of place. Rico, having never found his brother, later regrets leaving his home and family that he misses so deeply, and leaves back to Mexico, allowing Victor to live out his days away from his loved ones, but with his perseverance and strength paying off, and finally able to help his family.