The Utopian/Dystopian American Dream: Immigration and Labor in Latina/o Science Fiction

Demystifying "The Supply"

The Supply represents the utopian promise that Don Chipote and other immigrants desire: stability. This resource allows them to order the basic items that they need to survive and inhabit a type of “subsidized” housing. Unfortunately, this twisted and dystopic system is actually a strategy to pay the laborers less than their fair share. Whatever they purchase from the Supply becomes garnished from their wages and they become stuck in a cycle of debt that is extremely difficult to escape. In fact, the narrator contextualizes this aspect of the novel by bringing autobiographical data from Venegas, stating, “In this whole time that this writer had to work on the traque, he doesn’t remember ever having received a paycheck consistent with the amount of time worked…because the infamous Supply spends whatever it feels like and charges whatever it wants” (19). This description suggests that the Supply, a “convenient” company store, is actually a kind of monster that terrorizes those who have to use it. It places Mexican immigrant laborers in a system that they are forced to comply with if they want to survive with food and other basic necessities. Therefore, those who work on this railroad track find it almost impossible to escape once they begin accumulating debt. Additionally, as the narrator indicates, there is no accountability from the Supply, because it capitalizes on these poor laborers by leading them to believe that they will be supported with food, supplies, and shelter, when in fact, the debt they accrue in this warped system prevents them from ever leaving. The only way that Don Chipote is able to escape from this corrupt cycle is when he accidently buries a pick-ax into his foot. This injury leaves him in such bad condition that he can no longer work, therefore, preventing him from pursuing the utopian American Dream since his body is his only “value” to the employers, and now that he cannot perform, he is useless. Thus, he enters once again into a dystopian world where in an effort to better his life, he finds himself badly injured and unemployable. 

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