Rain of Gold Summary

Victor Villaseñor

Rain of Gold

  • Plot overview and analysis written by an experienced literary critic.
  • Full study guide for this title currently under development.
  • To be notified when we launch a full study guide, please contact us.

Rain of Gold Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Rain of Gold by Victor Villaseñor.

Victor Villaseñor’s Rain of Gold recounts the author’s family history from the beginning of the 20th century to the present, during which time they migrated from Mexico to the United States in pursuit of a better life. Villaseñor was inspired to write Rain of Gold by the stories told to him by his grandmother and his father throughout his childhood. As a child, Villaseñor enjoyed hearing stories of the exploits and adventures of his predecessors, but gradually developed some skepticism about these stories as he became older. Hungry for the truth, Villaseñor spent 12 years compiling research on questions about his family’s past, including conducting over 200 hours of recorded interviews with his parents, Lupe and Juan Salvador and traveling to Mexico to question many of the older residents who remember what life was like there when his parents were young. Rain of Gold, the fruits of Villaseñor’s labors, has become a bestseller translated into many languages.

Throughout the narrative, Villaseñor provides a rich description of the family dynamic that sustained the family through the hardship and uncertainty they experienced, the likes of which are hard for many readers in the developed world to imagine. Afflicted by poverty and surrounded by the tumult of revolution happening in Mexico, Villaseñor’s predecessors never lost their sense of their responsibility to look after one another’s welfare.

The focus of the first few chapters of the book is on Lupe, Victor Villaseñor’s mother, the youngest of five siblings. At the time Lupe was 6 she was living with her siblings and mother, Dona Guadalupe, in a village known as Lluvia de Oro – in English, Rain of Gold – from which the book takes its title. Lupe’s father had gone to the valley in search of work, leaving behind the rest of the family, sustaining themselves by money earned serving food and doing laundry for soldiers in the area. As if that was not enough, Dona Guadalupe had to constantly be on guard against attacks by revolutionaries in the area. As commentators have noted, the description of Dona Guadalupe makes her an exemplary figure for feminist thinkers.

The family also receive some help from Colonel Maytorene, for whom Lupe forms a crush, despite her being only 6 years old and the fact that the Colonel is already married. Sadly, the Colonel is killed during a mission to the United States, and Lupe is devastated. While on her way to bury the Colonel’s coat as a memorial, Lupe sees a deer that she takes home to keep as a pet. Lupe’s connection with the deer is significant because it seems so serve to fulfill a need for an object of affection, a need created by the absence of the father and by the death of the Colonel.

Around the same time, many others living in Mexico were being driven from their homes by bands of revolutionaries, roaming the countryside stealing everything of value from whomever they encountered before setting their homes ablaze. One unfortunate victim of such attacks was Juan Salvador and his family. At the age of 11, Juan’s village had been destroyed and the family had been reduced to begging and stealing in order to sustain themselves. At a point it got so bad Juan had to use cow dung as fuel for a fire just to keep the family warm.

The conditions in Lluvia de Oro during Lupe and Juan’s childhood had caused many families to flee Mexico. Lupe’s family, lacking the financial means to relocate, were among the last to leave the village. During the final months they were living in Lluvia de Oro, villagers had become increasingly superstitious; so much so that when Lupe’s father, Don Victor, returns, he is mistaken first for a demon, and then – perhaps worse – an American. Upon his return, Don Victor instructs Lupe to release her pet deer, but Lupe refuses.

A major turning point occurs in the narrative when Lupe’s brother, Victoriano, discovers a cache of gold that had been missed by the American miners who had been working in the area. Victoriano’s discovery comes just as war in Mexico was escalating to the point where evacuation was becoming urgent. Lupe’s family uses their newfound wealth to travel by train to Arizona, forcing Lupe to release her beloved pet deer – Lupe is later horrified when, unbeknownst to her, the family has killed her deer and served it for dinner. Unfortunately, the family is unable to earn a living wage in Arizona due to the racism and exploitation of migrant workers typical at the time. They travel onwards to California, where Lupe meets Juan.

As Lupe’s family is making its migration to the United States, Juan is making a living as a bootlegger, a criminal activity which earns Juan some time in jail and leads him to change his name to Salvador in order to avoid arrest. Lupe meets Juan at a dance and the two fall in love and are eventually married.

Rain of Gold contains a rich array of examples of perseverance in the face of adversity. More concretely, it offers an inside look at the dismal conditions that those living in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution had to endure. But the theme that is dominant is that of family and how the love of family members for each other can thrive even in the midst of horrendous violence, pain, and suffering.