Analysis Of Francisco Cantu's 'Bajadas'

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Francisco Cantu explores the physical and emotional landscapes that shift during his time as a United States border control agent in his essay Bajadas. He candidly writes about his experiences, using imagery to describe the physical landscape of New Mexico in a way that mirrors his own emotional landscape and answers the question that he grapples with most. Cantu writes, “There are days when I feel I am becoming good at what I do. And then I wonder, what does it mean to be good at this? I wonder sometimes how I might explain certain things…” (7). This important question is what drives Bajadas; it is what compels Cantu to write so vulnerably. Through a journal-like structure, Cantu details what his job requires of him and the way he treats…show more content…
He admits, “…I don’t truly understand the landscape, I don’t know how to handle myself in the face of ugliness or danger” (3). In this passage, Cantu establishes the relationship between the physical landscape and his own emotional landscape. This becomes an important foundation for the way he later connects the physical landscape around him to his emotions. At the end of the same entry, Cantu describes his morning view: “I watched as the landscape shifted under the winter light. Behind me, my mother placed her hand on my shoulder and pointed to a cloud of gypsum sand in the distance, impossibly small, swirling across the basin desert.” It is evident in these passages that Cantu is at the beginning stages of his job as a border patrol agent, and he still does not know what it means to be good at his job. The imagery of a landscape shifting under “winter light” describes the way light shifts and brings attention to things otherwise not noticed in darkness and shadow. Similarly, Cantu’s life is shifting, and light is being shed on his own inexperience and the questions he has surrounding his job. The description of “a cloud of gypsum sand in the distance,” suggests that Cantu recognizes that impending challenges are unavoidable in the future, but for now they are distant and “impossibly small;” he does not have to address them head on. However, the description that these clouds of sand are “swirling across the basin desert” suggest that Cantu is still clouded by thoughts of uncertainty that will not settle, no matter how small they are in the

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