This essay argues that Tomás Rivera’s seminal Chicano text . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra is a polyvocal and deeply communal work whose formal inventiveness illuminates the imaginative lives of migrant workers. Contesting the dominant critical reading of the book as an allegorical treatment of political consciousness and its development, the essay contends that a close reading of the novel’s narrative framework, as well as its emphasis on listening and memory, suggests that important aesthetic and political considerations need not be precisely tied to allegory in order to create a communal text. Ultimately, the essay argues that the literary can help illuminate the workings of ethnic identity by exploring new forms for imagining community belonging.

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