In a story of a romantic love

In the short story “Love in L.A.” by Dagoberto Gilb the reader expects a story of a romantic love story where the woman is swept off her feet by a charming gentleman. Instead, we follow Jake, a meandering man, aimlessly flowing through life. He gets in a minor accident with a female driver and lies his way out of taking responsibility. This chance accident, with two different people on two different life paths, shows the stark differences in ideas of freedom and love in Los Angeles. Jake looks at the other commuters with contempt and almost laughs at them.  He thinks they are stuck or somehow not free.  In reality, who is the free person?  Jake dreams of FM radios, velvet interiors, and electric controls.  He views having these as being free.  But it comes at a price that he is unwilling to pay.  He needs to have a job in order to obtain these things.  The author never reveals why Jake is in rush hour traffic or where he is going yet everyone else seems to be going to or from work.  It starts out as Jake thinking of this freedom.  After he gets away with his con, Jake even begins to feel a sense of freedom swelling up inside of him. In reality, Jake is not free because he can not live the life he desires instead he lives outside normal boundaries which are having a license, insurance, and a job. Jake has to put up a facade on who he is because he knows his true accomplishments don’t amount to much. He sadly, believes he has to lie about being an actor and musician, and there is no freedom in lying. Jake does not appear to be as free as he believes he is.Two different lives cross because the protagonist crashes into a pretty girl named Mariana. Jake is a lazy and conceited character. An example of his personality would be when he first caused the accident instead of stopping he “considered driving past the Toyota but was afraid the traffic ahead would make it too difficult.” A “new” critique would point out Jake’s car, a ’58 Buick and expired license plate, which represents his hotshot personality. Mariana, on the contrary, is interested in collecting his information and going on her way.  In the story, the author reveals that Mariana is traveling to work. Jake, on the other hand, is a deceitful man who dreams of what a stable job might be like. In a normal setting, Mariana and Jake would have never crossed paths. The author reveals that Mariana is going to work, she lives with her parents, has car insurance, and a new car. Jake, on the other hand, lives in a totally different world of no insurance, no job,  and not registering his car. Mariana is part of the working class which Jake refuses to be apart of. One of his biggest accomplishments was his car’s “ability to start and move, the body and paint were clean except for a few minor dings.” Does the title “Love in L.A.” properly represent the content of the story? With the title, the reader would assume the story would have a romantic love story between two people. But instead, the definition of love is having a deep affection. The only deep affection Jake is described as having is for himself and his car, ’58 Buick. A gender critique would see how Jake is portrayed as immature, lazy and self-absorbed. When the accident first happened, the author depicts Jake’s worries towards the bumpers of the car before thinking of the other people involved in the accident. After he realizes there are only minor scratches he “perks up.” Reluctantly, he has to speak to the owner of the car, Mariana, who he continuously flirts with. In the end, Jake falsely gives his “information” to the other driver and “…took a moment or two to feel both proud and sad about his performance.” The title, in fact, fit the story but it is not the story the reader would presume. As it can be seen, when two different worlds collide, the outcomes can be life-changing. Not in this instance. Jake is still self-absorbed and concerned with himself. Jake’s idea of freedom only changes inasmuch as it benefitted himself. Unfortunately, Jake’s shallow views will never allow him to experience a greater idea of love.

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