Throughout the short story Alien Turf, Piri, a little Puerto Rican boy who just moved to an all-Italian neighborhood encounters many obstacles. Piri will face rejection and inadequacy. He gets teased, and beaten up, but still, he stays strong and acts older than he really is. At the end of the story, Piri is encountered with a strong sense of compassion from Rocky, an Italian boy who had previously beaten him up. The boys realized that racism is only skin deep, but each person may be a kind, caring human being.
In the beginning of the story, all Rocky saw was a Puerto Rican invading his Italian neighborhood. According to him, only Italians belonged in the neighborhood, and Puerto Ricans, like Piri and his family, should be ultimately banned. Racism is a belief that one race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities. Racial differences may produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. Rocky fully lived by this in the beginning, and even throughout most of the story.
What is compassion? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, compassion is sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Some other people may see compassion as being sympathetic toward someone or something when they are struggling or having some sort of problem. If this is what compassion means, then Rocky truly showed compassion for Piri at the end of the story.
During the last fight that the Italian boys got into with Piri was when everything changed. One of the boys screamed to Piri from down the street, “You even buying from us paisans, you must wantta be an Italians.” Usually, he would just run away from them, but this day was different. Piri, sticking up for himself, screamed back to them, “I wouldn’t be a guinea on a motherfucking bet!” Rocky and his gang were shocked that he said this. The boys started fist fighting and Piri hit Tony in the stomach as hard as he could, watching him fall to the ground. Tony grabbed a handful of asphalt and threw it in Piri’s face. Rocky hit Tony in the face, knowing that his friend had crossed the line.
Rocky showed compassion by sticking up for Piri. He took Piri’s hand saying, “Comon kind, lemme take you home. Rocky recognized that yes, Piri was a little bit different because he was Puerto Rican, but he was also a human being. He realized that racism is only skin deep, and everybody has feelings. Piri was also touched in this instant. He never would have thought that any of the boys, especially Rocky, the leader of the gang, would ever stick up for him. To his amazement, not only did Rocky yell at his friend, but he also threw a couple of punches at him.
Compassion was displayed in this because Rocky new that even though he really didn’t like the fact that there was a little Puerto Rican boy that moved into his neighborhood, he could not dismiss the fact that what his friend did was wrong. He was going to help this little boy out. Rocky experienced a true epiphany during this part of the story. His views about everything were disregarded in that instant when his friend threw the asphalt in Piri’s face. He knew that if they really wanted to, they could have beaten Piri up real bad since he couldn’t see, but Rocky knew that it would not be a fair fight. Rocky also recognized the fact that Piri needed his compassion and care in that instant, and that was exactly what he was going to do.