The main theme of ‘‘Amigo Brothers’’ is friendship, and Thomas starts to build it from the beginning. By the end of the first paragraph, the reader knows that Antonio and Felix consider themselves brothers because they have been such good friends for so long. The reader also knows that the two boys are from the same neighborhood and thus have a similar cultural background and upbringing. The reader soon learns that the boys also share a passion for boxing, and they train together and encourage each other as athletes. Boxing is important common ground in their friendship—they train together daily—and it keeps them out of trouble and focused on the positive.
When the inevitable time comes that these two accomplished boxers must face each other in a championship bout, they are both concerned about the fight affecting their friendship. Although they have both dreamed of becoming world champions, the opportunity to fight in a Golden Gloves tournament is tempered with the reality that one of them will have to beat the other. Their friendship is so strong that they agree to train separately for the first time and to fight their best in the competition. They know they can approach the fight like professionals and still walk away friends, but they need to train apart from each other. Otherwise their affection for each other will interfere.
Both Antonio and Felix want to win the fight, and they train toward that goal, but they do not want to embarrass or hurt each other. Without consulting one another, they each decide that the best thing to do is to knock out the other quickly and cleanly in the first round. Antonio decides that if he trains hard enough, he can do this to save his friend pain and anguish, and yet still win. Felix comes to the same conclusion. On fight day, they exchange respectful glances, and set off into a fight that is so equally matched, it goes through three full rounds. When the final bell rings, both fighters shed their desire to win and rush toward each other. Only seconds before, they had been fighting intensely, so the crowd thinks they are going to kill each other. But the fighters are relieved that the fight is over and that they can drop the professionalism and be friends again. Without finding out who won, Antonio and Felix walk away arm in arm. As important a fight as theirs was, they both value their friendship far more. The fight shows the reader that they also have enormous respect for each other as competitors.
A character trait shared by both Antonio and Felixis integrity. They love boxing, and they want to compete with honor. The story shows them training diligently and consistently together and admiring the greats of the sport. They do not speak badly about other competitors, complain about bouts they have lost, or look for shortcuts in their workouts or boxing strategies. They both want to compete in the sport honorably, and this is never more evident than when their match-up is announced.
Neither Antonio nor Felix ever considers throwing the match so the other can win, even though they love each other like brothers. They want the match to be as great as it should be, and giving it away or cheating to win it is never even considered. When they talk about the match and decide it is best if they train separately and wait to see each other after the match, Felix suggests they make a promise to each other. Antonio’s response is that as long as the promise is fair, he is willing. Felix assures him that it is fair and states plainly that when they fight each other, they need to do it as professionals, both of them in the fight to win and doing his best. Antonio agrees, adding, ‘‘No pulling punches.’’ Without reservation, they both agree that the integrity of the sport, and their personal integrity, demands that they fight the right way. Because integrity is so important to them, they understand each other at a deep level, and they both have confidence that fighting to win will not damage their relationship. At the end, this is exactly what happens. The reader sees that the fighters’ sense of integrity is real as they fight hard to win, but ultimately value the friendship over the title.
Sara Constantakis, Thomas E. Barden – Short Stories for Students – Presenting Analysis, Context & Criticism on Commonly Studied Short Stories, vol. 28 (2010) – Piri Thomas – Published by Gale Cengage Learning.