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Sin Nombre


Submitted By pipesave93
Words 615
Pages 3
Carlos F. Salazar
LAST 1010: Introduction to Latin American Studies I
Instructor: Corinne Boudreaux

Sin Nombre – Response Paper
The most shocking scene for me happens at the end of the film when Sayra and Willy (Casper) reach a river that represents the border between Mexico and the United States. As they get there, a coyote or people smuggler agrees to take them across one by one. Casper pays the man with his stolen digital camera containing the prized pictures of his murdered girlfriend and lets Sayra go first. Just as she is half way through, the gang finds Casper. After a desperate chase, Smiley encounters him on the riverbank. Thereupon, Smiley, with tears in his eyes, shoots Casper three times, the last bullet piercing his head. This allows time for the other maras to catch up. They then all proceed to empty their magazines and clips into Casper in an execution style killing, while Sayra struggles to hold on to the raft and screams horrified. From my point of view, it’s ironic that Smiley is the one who kills Casper. Smiley, a young 12-year-old kid, recruited and initiated by Casper himself was the one in charge of ending his life, no one else. Casper was the one who brought him up in the gang and taught him about the tasks, responsibilities, and sense of comradeship of MS-13. I think part of the movie’s a message with this scene is that “who that lives by the sword, dies by the sword”. This means that if you use violence, or other harsh means, against other people, you can expect to have those same means used against you. Casper lived from being a gang member, stealing, harassing, and murdering people and later died at the hands of another mara, one he created. Benito ultimately transforms into Smiley after killing his friend. He changes from being a doe-eyed innocent child to a cold, obedient gang member. As we learned in class, a individual’s identity is created when a person interacts with a social environment. Thus, the society you are brought up and the people that surround you contribute to the formation of your identity. This social experience a child receives results in certain behaviors and influences their personal and social development. Benito was immersed into a gang member’s life in a crucial stage of his identify development, making it easier to identify himself with such standards. He rapidly had his named changed to his street name, Smiley. Pretty soon, he actively participated in initiation and socialization ceremonies. He learned about the gangway of life through Casper and the duties they were assigned to do. Smiley became a member of the maras of Tapachula and those thugs became his family. They took care of him, fed him, and gave him a sense of friendship and comradeship. In this sense, the MS-13 gave Benito a feeling of acceptance and belonging, providing him security and self-esteem. The maras became a surrogate family for him, offering a sense of protection to their members and economic future through drugs and violence. That’s why he chose them instead of Casper.
In this last scene, Smiley chooses to remain loyal to the gang by sacrificing his friendship with Casper, even though it hurts him. That’s why Smiley is later shown getting his lip tattooed as a sign of his loyalty to the gang. He had earned his colors after proving himself worthy and had become an official part of the gang – the most important thing for him.


Sin Nombre. Dir. Cary J. Fukunaga. Perf. Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer, and Paulina Gaitán. Focus Features, 2009. DVD.

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