Barefoot Dogs: Stories

For your Essay #4, carefully read and reread Antonio Ruiz-Camacho’s book Barefoot Dogs:
Stories, a collection of short stories about the family of José Victoriano Arteaga of the Polanco
neighborhood of Mexico City, including his five children and their families, the maids of the several
branches of the family, as well as Don Victoriano’s mistress and their child. As you did with your essay
on the film Paris, Texas and your chosen definition of the word “family”, for your Essay #4 consider a
definition of the word “home” and write an essay in which you explain what you think Barefoot Dogs:
Stories could be telling us about the concept of “home” as it relates to the characters in the stories —
whether they be members of the family itself or the domestics who serve them.
In thinking about your approach, you might consider some of the following leads, if they are
helpful for you:
First, the English word “economy” comes to us etymologically from the Greek word oikonomia,
which means “management of a household or state; or public revenue”. Oikonomia is based on the Greek
word oikos, which simply means “house”. Consequently, we can ask ourselves what the relationship
might be between home and economy, in the sense that we understand the word economy today (that is,
money, and the movement and use of money). Is that what “home” is — the shared economic lives of a
group of people, whether that group is a family or a larger community?
Second, a healthy economic situation (that is, having money and other material resources) implies
security — that is, we like to think that the more money or resources we have, the more secure we are
(and thus the happier we are as well?). The English word “security” comes to us etymologically from the
Latin word securus, which means literally “free from, or apart from, care”, concern, or trouble. If home
for the characters (or at least some of the characters) in these stories is defined by the place where they
are free from care, concern, or trouble, what is the basis for that freedom that they have — or, at least, the
freedom that they had before the kidnapping? This avenue of thought obviously leads one to a discussion
of the significant class differences and expectations about class that permeate all of these stories.
A third approach could be to consider the concept of fidelity or loyalty, which strongly influences
the theme of the final story in the collection. Is “home” the physical or mental place where we know that
people who are like us — that is, those who are related to us by blood, or who are part of our family, in
whatever way we define family — are faithful to each other? (The Latin word for “faithful” is fidelis.)
The other side to that same coin is to ask whether the absence or destruction of faithfulness, or Fidelis,
then by definition indicates the absence or destruction of a home.
Your essay should be five to seven pages in length, not including the Works Cited page. A
successful essay presents a balanced, analytical argument defending a thoughtful and clearly expressed
thesis, written in clear and correct English prose.
Additional requirement: In addition to discussing and citing the book Barefoot Dogs: Stories,
incorporate into your discussion and analysis a scholarly article that relates to your thesis and the
argument you build to defend your thesis. You may want to incorporate other sources of information into
your essay as well, but at a minimum, you must include at least one scholarly article. You must document
your source(s) with parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page according to the rules of style set forth
Essay #4: Barefoot Dogs: Stories
— over —
by the Modern Language Association (MLA). Be sure to include in your Works Cited your edition of the
book Barefoot Dogs: Stories as well.
Mechanics of your paper: Your paper must be typed and double-spaced. Use a standard
typeface, 11- or 12-point type, and 1-inch margins all around. Give your paper a title, and number your
pages. Include a title page that contains the essay’s title, your name, the name of this class, and the date
you submitted it. Document your sources (including the book Barefoot Dogs: Stories using correct MLA
style. Your essay should be at least 1,250 words (aim for five to seven pages, not including the Works
Cited page). You must submit your summary on Blackboard in one of the following file formats (I prefer
.pdf): .doc, .docx, or .pdf.
Enjoy the opportunity you have to apply the skills you are developing in this class by defining
“home” and applying that definition to the book Barefoot Dogs: Stories.

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