Paco’s Story Readalong Week 3

This is week 3 of the Paco’s Story read-a-long, and the third set of discussion questions were posted on Wednesday, July 21 for Chapter 5.

If you missed the first round and second round of questions, check them out.  You also can check out my previous post for section 1 and section 2.

Paco’s Story takes a new turn with the narrator showing us how well Paco is acclimating to his new life in Boone.  He’s the dishwasher at the Texas Lunch, but his work is not all that keeps him moving.  His dreams are ripe with danger and disturbing dreams.  The narrator’s identity becomes clearer in this chapter, and the ghosts of Paco’s past are identified.

Paco seems to take to the work at the diner because it provides a routine with very clear parameters, much like those in the military.  But once asleep, Paco is at the mercy of his past and the ghosts that still haunt him.  While he hasn’t outwardly asked why he was the only one that survived the massacre, it is clear that he wonders, though in his dreams he actively keeps his head down to make sure a different outcome does not occur.

The complexity of Paco’s character shines in this chapter — his hold on the past and the tug of the here-and-now, his ease with fellow soldiers before the massacre, and his ability to become robotic and get tasks done.  However, he is still paralyzed, as paralyzed as he was in the jungles of Vietnam, unable to share the darkest moments of his life and of the war.  They are too fresh, too real.

Even if you aren’t participating in the Vietnam War Reading Challenge, we hope that you will join us for the Paco’s Story read-a-long.  Until next week.


  1. Chapter 5 certainly gives you a clearer picture of Paco…finally! You truly see how tormented he is, how haunted he is and how he clings to routines and certainties. It’s a very sad existence getting up, going to work, working all day into the night, sleeping, then repeat. But the work keeps him occupied…until the disturbing dreams start. I wonder how long he’ll be able to take living that way.
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