Both Ernesto Galarza’s “Barrio Boy” and Joan Didion’s “Notes From a Native Daughter” write about Sacramento’s past. Both authors talk about Sacramento during two different time periods. Joan Didion talks about the mid-century and Ernesto Galarza talks about the early 20th century. Although both author’s perspective of Sacramento differs from era to era, there are differences in certain characteristics described by both authors. Galarza’s essay focuses on an immigrant point of view arriving into Sacramento versus Didion’s experiences as a native decedent of Sacramento. Joan Didion’s Sacramento is a very different place ...view middle of the document...
At the moment of its waking Sacramento lost…its character…” (Didion 173). In other words, Didion is pointing out how Sacramento is becoming more immoral as urbanization and industrialization occur. However, what is most interesting is how Didion expresses Sacramento’s loss of character through her own experiences. For instance, Didion describes her wonderful memories basking in the Californian sun, rivers, fields and valleys as a child, showcasing the real natural Sacramento. However, later on as a n adult when she returns to Sacramento, Didion finds that the Sacramento she has been seeking is no longer there, as a result of industrial development:
It is hard to find California now, unsettling to wonder how much of it was merely imagined or improvised; melancholy to realize how much of anyone’s memory no true memory at all…I have an indelibly vivid ‘memory’, for example, of how Prohibition affected the hop growers around Sacramento… (Didion 57)
In the excerpt above Didion expresses how she was unable to reconnect with the California she grew up with because of all the changes it has suffered. She also mentions prohibition, which by definition is a reform movement that outlawed drinking because it's effects on the home, in order to really capture how increasing industrialization led to the gradual loss of the traditional Californian way of life. She uses prohibition as an example to show how people's ideas are shifting with the introduction of urbanization; People no longer find it moral to drink in the home or in general, as opposed to the old Californian lifestyle where people, did not place so much value on the effects of alcohol consumption on the home.
Didion also notes how the rapid process of urbanization leads to detachment between people; a loss of connection and purpose. She says: “ It is a town in which defense industry and its absence owners are suddenly the most important facts... it is a town many of whose most solid citizens sense about themselves a kind of functional obsolescence. The old families still see only one another, but they do not...as much as they once did” (Didion 61). In other words, Didion conveys the idea that with industrialization, people's goals shift from farming to industrializing, and so people no longer feel the need to talk to one another because of the time consuming nature of industrialization. Moreover, their original functions in society are being uprooted and demolished by industrialization. And so we see how for Didion industrialization leads to the loss of connection between people and a loss of purpose people once felt.
Last but not least, Didion writes about a “new generation of native Sacramentans,” one that does not particularly care for traditional Californian lifestyle, which is emerging with the increase of industrialization (Didion 62). For Didion this is the true problem because the “old” Sacramento, as she refers to it, now becomes something to be read about, not experienced. Didion...