By Elena Cheung
The war really happened. A Salvadoran man came to the United States. Coming for work.
Opportunity and safety. To survive.
His day didn't consist of much. He went to work and then back home. His family kept
him company. He wouldn't come out again until his boss called him in once more.
He was accompanied. He came with his two children. His wife and other two children
were still in El Salvador. He was the one who worked and raised money for the family. He would
work in the nights, “taking the jobs” of those who lived there.
Distressed, the Americans begged the local officers to deport the Salvadorans who were
taking their jobs. And the officers managed to get a hold of some of the immigrants. Others
managed to get away. The Americans got terrified again and said they were thugs, criminals, and
drug dealers. The police suggested to keep them in their own community.
The Americans thought that was a terrific idea. They pushed them to their own communities, but some of the other Spanish speaking communities did not want to mix their ethnicities. They made each other uncomfortable. . .
The Americans had to solve this on their own.
They tried to deport the families. They tried to kill the gang members. So that they would
stop “terrorizing” and stealing their jobs. To get rid of them.
The family feared for their lives. The stench of rotten flesh haunted the families
memories. They remembered the dead bodies laid out on the streets of their country.
Weeks later, it occurred to the Americans that they should not have invaded El Salvador.
If they did not, the war wouldn't have been so violent and the family would not have to move
here. They would keep that in mind for the next time.
“Sewer Fauna” by Claudia Hernandez is about a scaly man that comes from the sewers to
eat the neighborhood’s pets. The neighbors result in calling the cops, calling the zoo, and even,
suffocating the sewer family to death. To mask the stench and their regret, they spray lime on the
rotting flesh. In the end, the neighbors decide to change their tactics the next time it happens. The
story may seem like a children’s tale, but it has a deeper meaning to it.
Perhaps, the narrator of the story was a child of one of the neighbors, watching the sewer
family struggling to survive. Children tend to see things as it is. The child did not particularly
like the sewer family, but they knew that killing the family was wrong. The child witnessed the
remorse of the adults when they tried to mask the smell of rotting flesh. Although the adults did
not outwardly express their regrets, they wish that their children would not make the same
mistakes that they did. That is why the townspeople mutually agreed to handle the situation
differently the next time that it happened by simply asking them to leave.
The short story, in my perspective, represents the Salvadoran immigrant experience. I
chose to link the story to my Abuelito’s experience of moving to America during the Salvadoran
Many people see immigrants coming from Latin America as violent, dirty, and criminals.
They make a misjudged perception of what they are based on their looks alone. Some even
ostracize them in their communities and accuse them of stealing jobs. With these perceptions,
they dehumanize the immigrants who sacrificed their lives to live in America. With these
perceptions, they turn the immigrants into a sewer fauna.