Behind the Eyes

Teacher’s Guide
Prepared by Francisco X. Stork





Behind the Eyes is the story of Hector Robles, a sixteen-year-old intelligent, introspective, Chicano boy growing up in the housing projects of El Paso, Texas. Hector is the hope of his family. His father, who died a year before the story begins, had been depositing a portion of his weekly paycheck in a savings account since Hector was a little boy so that Hector could one day go to college.

Hector is an exceptional student who loves to read. His major concern is to pursue his studies unnoticed and unscathed by the violence that surrounds him. Hector’s dream is shattered when his older brother Filiberto falls in love with the girl friend of Chava, the local gang’s leader. A series of events result in the death of his brother and in Hector lashing out against Chava. After it is discovered that there is a contract on his life, Hector is sent to Furman – a reform school in San Antonio.

At Furman, Hector slowly makes friends with X-lax, his hyperactive, irreverent bunkmate and with Sansón, the slow-witted, gentle, giant, that Hector reluctantly teaches to read. Ordered to participate in Furman’s rehabilitation programs or else leave, Hector enrolls in a “mind training with dumbbells” course taught by Díaz, an inmate serving a life sentence at a nearby prison. With the help of X-Lax, Sansón and Díaz, Hector begins to recover his lost sense of hope. Just then, however, a new student named El Topo arrives at Furman and begins to wage psychological warfare at Hector. Suspecting that El Topo is there to fulfill the contract that was placed on him by Chava, Hector struggles to deal with paralyzing fear and the return of hopelessness. In time, and with the help of his friends, Hector learns to live with courage and purpose.