You Can't Push a Rope
Joaquin Peralta is fighting to get the family land back. Twenty-thousand acres in New Mexico, stolen by gringo politicians, ranchers, speculators, and the United States Government. Hiring lawyers, going to meetings, burning barns, cutting fences, whatever might work. In 1965, Joaquin marries Bonita, a beautiful Hispanic widow and adopts her half-Anglo teenage son, Chava. It soon becomes apparent that Chava isn't chicano enough to suit Joaquin. He isn't tough enough, doesn't fit in with the Peraltas, doesn't get fired up over the land-grant fight. He can't even speak Spanish.
In June of 1967, Joaquin takes part in a historic courthouse "raid" and shootout in a small northern New Mexico town. Reies Tijerina, leader of the raiders, is vaulted into national prominence in the Hispanic civil rights movement, even though Tijerina, Joaquin, and several other raiders are arrested and imprisoned. Bonita then must take work as a domestic to make ends meet and Chava blames Joaquin. Who needs this fight over ancient land grants anyway?
Conflict between the two men escalates when Chava falls in love and marries Ellie Carter, whose family has innocently settled on contested land-grant soil and is being drawn into the fight. Ironically, Chava's new life as a member of the Carter family leads him to better understand the love of land, culture, and family that drives Joaquin to seek justice, however long delayed. When Chava stops an attempted rape of Bonita by racist Anglos bent on revenge against the Peraltas, he finally gains Joaquin's respect and hope of reconciliation.
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