We have all heard the expression, “honesty is the best policy”, but is it? If it was the best policy then why do people lie so much? What causes a person to lie? Fear is the reason. Fear is the main factor of lies. Many people lie because they fear to face the consequence of what they did. They see a lie as the only way out in certain types of situations. So, is it really wrong to lie? In the novel The Book of Unknown Americans, we are introduced to one of the main characters, Mayor. He lives with both of his parents in an apartment and has an older brother named Enrique. In the story, we see that he is forced to play soccer by his dad because he believes that is what male Latinos do. Mayor is not good and does not like soccer, so he decides to quit, and lies to his dad about it. When his dad finds out he punishes him because he lied to him. Mayor was not wrong about lying to his dad about playing soccer because he was scared to admit the truth after, being pushed to do something he did not want to do, being compared to his brother, and his dad was putting the male Latino stereotypes on him.
Mayor never thought about telling his dad that he had quit soccer because he was scared to admit it. He feared of what his dad might think of him when he realized he was not as good as Enrique, so he pretended he was a good player. Mayor was not wrong in thinking his dad would be mad when he found out that he quit soccer. When his dad found out he quit he was madder at him quitting soccer then starting a fight, and punished him for lying (Henriquez 131-132).
Mayor knows he is not good at soccer but is forced to play it by his dad, Rafael. Mayor wanting his dad to be proud of him like he is of his brother, he tries out for the school soccer team. After a while, the coach decides to sit him on the sidelines. Mayor knows that he sat him out because he is not good. Mayor said, “I felt like a loser hanging out on the sidelines all the time” (Henriquez 17). So, he Mayor tired of hanging on the sidelines he asked his coach if he could go back in and do some drills. The coach did not want to, but Mayor lies and says he has been practicing with his dad, so the coach decides to give him a chance. When he was doing a drill, he got tangled with one of his teammates, and felt embarrassed and quit (Henriquez 17-18). He tried all he could and was not able to make it. He did not admit it to his dad because he was scared of what his dad might think of him. Instead, he told his dad that he was still practicing so his dad would feel proud of him. Mayor was scared to lie when his dad asked him if he was getting better, and with the rush of guilt, he lied to his dad (Henriquez 68). He was scared of being humiliated because he was not as good as his dad expects him to be.
Enrique, Mayor’s older brother, is admired by everyone which makes Mayor feel less proud of himself because he is hardly noticed. Mayor admits that he was never as popular as his brother in school, and he would wear his P.E. shorts because maybe there was some popularity trapped in them that would rub off on him (Henriquez 14). Mayor was bullied while everyone thought his brother was cool. Rafael is constantly bragging about him, “He watched soccer if it was on, which inevitably led to him talking about Enrique and bragging about the latest goal my brother had scored against Georgetown or the assist he’d had in the big game against Virginia which was Maryland’s main rival and now almost every week Enrique’s name was in the paper under the sports stats…” (Henriquez 67-68). Mayor was never able to be as good as him even with his grades. Enrique always had better grades than him. The fact that Rafael says these things about Enrique makes Mayor feel less about himself and makes him want to hide the truth even more.
Male Latinos have many different types of stereotypes, meaning that in Latin culture they have certain beliefs that male should be a certain way. Rafael is the one that imposes these stereotypes on Mayor. For example, Mayor says, “The only reason I’d gone out for the team in the first place was because my dad had forced me into it. , or him the logic went like: I was Latino and male and not crippled, therefore I should play soccer” (Henriquez 16). Rafael did not care that about Mayor’s opinion he just made him do what he wanted him to do. This puts a lot of pressure on Mayor because he thinks that his dad just wants him to follow the stereotypes of being a male. When Rafael finally finds out that Mayor was lying to him about playing soccer was when he and Celia were called into the school. They were called into the school because Mayor said, “I talked myself into the idea that maybe my dad would be proud of me- just a little bit- when he found out I’d gotten into a fight. Maybe it proved I had a little bit of machismo in me after all” (Henriquez 130). At this point, Mayor was confused because that was what his dad wanted, for him to have some machismo in him, but it was not. Rafael just wanted Mayor to do what he wanted him to do, and to do it right. Mayor was scared to tell his dad the truth, he found it easier to lie to him than, to be honest, and risk having his dad get mad at him.
Fear was the main reason the Mayor lied to his dad. He was scared of the disappointment he was going to be to his dad. Rafael put a lot of pressure on him because he forced him to play when he did not want to, he compared him to his brother, and he made him follow the male Latino stereotypes. Mayor did not do the wrong thing by lying to his dad he was just trying to avoid his dad’s disapproval on him.
Henriquez, Cristina. The Book of Unknown Americans: A Novel. Unabridged. Books on Tape; [New York], 2014.