Marcelo in the Real World
by Francisco X. Stork
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Promised land, anyone? Subtle Garden of Eden reference? Marcelo in the Real World, the sequel? Vermont could be all of these things.
First Marcelo enters the home of Jasmine's heart, then he enters her real home. All together now: awwww. But seriously, there's some major metaphor going on here. If Boston is the land of castes and cliques, Vermont is the untouched wilderness. It's where Marcelo and Jasmine will begin their lives together. It's where Marcelo will go to college.
But, as Jasmine reminds him, "What I want to tell you is that there are no places to hide, not anywhere" (31.69). In fact, she says, "You made me wonder whether my house-slash-studio was just a place to hide" (31.59). This is the kind of realization you may not have when you're Marcelo's age, but a few years later, when you're Jasmine's age, it becomes much clearer.
Jasmine's spent more time in the real world than Marcelo. She's seen more of the ugliness and cruelty of the law firm. In other words, she's more jaded. But she's still crying tears of joy that Marcelo wants to join her in Vermont. Sure, Vermont may not be all it's cracked up to be in Marcelo's head—and it certainly won't allow him to escape his troubles at home—but at least they'll be together.
For these two, Vermont is a place where they can define their own lives, and make their own choices. Marcelo can become independent from his parents, who—let's face it—aren't the most awesome authority figures in the world. And Jasmine can take care of her father while knowing that she also has a future all her own to look forward to—one with Marcelo.
From Privilege to Poverty
In a book about class distinction, it's worth noting that Marcelo chooses to leave wealth for, essentially, poverty. There's the poverty that already exists, and there's the poverty that almost inevitably faces college students, which Marcelo will be, and musicians, which Jasmine will be. (This doesn't mean you can't fulfill your dreams of being a rock star; it just means you'll have to work really hard and probably eat some ramen along the way.)
But he's willing to learn to love faded flamingos, senile dads, and the Bud Light and fiddle music of the neighbors if it means he gets to be with the girl who brings his internal music back. He doesn't choose money, like Arturo; he chooses love and passion, for both Jasmine and horses, instead. And those things can be found in Vermont—not bigwig Boston. It's the son attempting to write the father's wrongs, and it's romantic as all get-out. Vermont, here we come.