The Ruiz de Burton’s setting for her historical romance story is Southern California. She presents a nostalgic reflection of life on the grand haciendas of the Spanish land and provides a bitter recollection of the demise of this life when Alta California was incorporated into the United States. In many ways, the book tells the story of Ruiz’s own life. She writes from the perspective of a native Californio narrating the story of two families: the Darrells, who are transplanted from New England and the Alamars, who are landed gentry from Mexico. Through the narration of the characters’ tumultuous struggles over social status, personal integrity, and property, Ruiz challenges the social norms of her time. This essay demonstrates how Ruiz pushes the restrictions of place and time through her narrative.
The first sign of Ruiz challenging social borderlines is seen in her introduction of the Alamar family. Don Mariano Alamar is a magnanimous man who is open-minded and is the last of an aristocratic Mexicans. The Alamars as portrayed by Ruiz are anything but a typical Mexican family depicted by other books and movies of the same era. Instead, they are light-skinned, cosmopolitan, and very polite (Ruiz de Burton, Sánchez and Pita 93). The family’s children have French tutors hired for them, and they…show more content… Ruiz uses the book to level several accusations of bribery, influencing of legislation, and the purchase of committee seats. Huntington alongside Leland Stanford conspire to ensure that the railway never reaches San Diego. This failure to extend the railway therefore leads to the crippling of the economy in the area and forces the Don into bankruptcy. Leland scoffs at the San Diego’s delegation of fair play from him dismissing them by saying “Business is business.” (Ruiz de Burton, Sánchez and Pita 225)He points out that even if he was to play fair others would