In “The Plum Plum Pickers,” Raymond Barrio uses symbols and imagery to develop his story. Living in a foreign country is hard, but working in a foreign country under the orders of someone who even though shares someone else’s background and still treats his own people like they are servants, steals their food and only care about his own well-being is not worthy of deserving the title of human being. In this story of human suffering, Manuel Gutierrez stands up and fights to defend his rights as a human being and worker, not mattering that he had to pay for his undisciplined behavior after, because what he had done left a sense of pride that would give him strength to take what was coming next.
Repeating the same words and creating sentences that are one word long create a sense of tiredness and discomfort while it shows how the time at this point is passing by very slowly. On the setting of the story, Barrio starts describing a man who “stopped and walked to the farthest end of the first row for some water, raised the dented dipper from the brute tank, drank the holy water in great brute gulps so he wouldn’t have to savor its tastelessness, letting it spill down his torn shirt to cool his exhausted body…” (1). This description of Manuel makes him look like he is a prisoner, a type of machine that is already programmed to do what it is asked to without being able to show what its necessaries are. Barrio uses imagery to describe Manuel as an animal or machine who is used to follow orders and feels less valuable than others. Manuel shows this while saying, “Please to meetcha” (1).
After having lunch and regaining strength, the day should go on smoothly, but for Manuel there was not an advantage. Roberto Morales, the one in charge of the worker, “a real robber,” as his name suggests it, does not care about his own people even though “he grew up with them,” and “he’d suffered all the sordid deprivations with them.” Roberto does not only steal the workers’ money everyday after work, but he also steals the workers’ pride because they cannot complain or speak up and Manuel has “to force himself not to answer” every time he listens to Roberto saying how “there was a miscalculation” with his “smiling” face and “palms up.”
Even for the most patient person, there comes the time when nothing more can be hold back. Manuel felt that he had to do something to defend himself against Roberto. He felt he had to defend his honor and pride, so he exploded and heard himself say, “you promised to take nothing!” By using imagery, Barrio describes the two men “reaching for each other jugular,” like they were two animals fighting to defend their territory. Even though Manuel knew Roberto had the advantage because Roberto was more “powerful,” he did not let this intimidate him, and in a last effort to defend his pride as a human being, “Manuel lifted his foot and clumsily tipped over his own last bucket of cots. They rolled away in all directions around everyone’s feet” (2). Manuel did not want to continue being treated like an animal, instead he opted for defending his honor by showing Roberto that at last Manuel did have a voice and that he wanted to be heard. “He would have to pay for this, for his defiance, somehow, again, later. But he had shown defiance… and he had earned respect for his fellow slaves” (2). That was exactly how Manuel felt, like a slave, but for once in his life he had been able to defend his honor.
Barrio uses imagery and allusion to develop the purpose of the story. He does not let Manuel die without defending his honor and show how a human being should be treated, with respect. It could also be seen as Barrio giving life to Manuel because if men do not experience what pride is, “they were dead before they died.”