The Circuit By Francisco Jimenez Essay Questions

About the Book

The Circuit tells the experiences of a migrant child whose family moves from Mexico to California in hopes of a better life. Francisco Jiménez uses stories from his own life to portray what it's like to be a child who must hide from truant officers if farm work must be done and who must hide from immigration officials in order to continue living in this country.

Before Reading

Discuss with students what a migrant worker does. Talk about the many crops which migrant workers gather, such as grapes, strawberries, apples, peaches, cherries, and cotton.

Discussion Questions

After students finish reading the book, guide a discussion with the following questions.

  1. Jiménez writes about life as it was for a migrant worker some fifty years ago. Do you think that the lives of migrant workers are better today? If you're not sure, how can you find out?
  2. Before his family moves to the United States, Panchito's brother Roberto believes that in California people sweep money off the streets. Reality for the family proves to be much different. How would you describe the California that Panchito's family moves to? Is it a place where you would want to live?
  3. "Miracle in Tent City" tells of the faith of Panchito's parents — faith which enables them to maintain hope when a hospital tells them that their child will die. Do you think that faith can help people endure hardship? What kinds of faith do you see around you?
  4. At school, Panchito's brother Roberto gets hit with a ruler for not following directions that he can't understand. The directions are given in English but Roberto speaks only Spanish. What do you think it's like to try to learn in school when you don't speak the same language as everyone else? How do you think that schools and teachers in the United States should help students who don't speak English at home?
  5. In "Christmas Gift," Panchito's family meets a man and a woman who are even poorer than they are. Does anyone in Panchito's family help the couple? How?
  6. In "Learning the Game," Panchito's friend Gabriel refuses to pull a plow. Because of his refusal, he is fired and sent back to Mexico. Why do you think that it's so important for Gabriel to draw the line at pulling a plow? Do you think that it's worth the price he pays?

The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child is an autobiographical novel by Francisco Jiménez based in part on his journey from Mexico to the United States of America. The book, narrated by the child's point of view, follows the life of young Francisco Jiménez and his family as they move from one location to another to harvest crops in the United States. The book has three sequels, Breaking Through, Reaching Out and the fourth in the series, Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University. The author translated the first three novels into Spanish under the titles Cajas de cartón(cardboard boxes), Senderos fronterizos and Mas allá de mi respectively, all published by Houghton Mifflin.

External links
  • Teaching Multicultural Literature: The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

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