What Are the Setting and Main Characters of "Behind Grandma's House?"

In "Behind Grandma's House" by Gary Soto, the setting is an alley, and the main characters are the author at age 10 and his grandma. The alley is behind the grandma's house. There are also imaginary and animal characters.

In "Behind Grandma's House," Gary Soto tells about a time when as a boy he acted out in the alley behind his grandmother's house. The poem tells how he borrowed a dog and made a ruckus. Cats, pigeons and ants do not fare well when they get in his way. He throws light bulbs at a teacher who is presumed to be imaginary and hurls swear words at a priest who is described as imaginary. The setting includes trash cans, rocks and a peach tree. The use of the word "alley" implies an urban setting, and the peach tree places it in the South. The time of the setting is in the past because the author is narrating a scene from his own childhood.

The main character, Soto as a youth, is described as 10 years old and wanting to show he is tough. The grandma enters the poem near the end. She states that she wants to help the boy, and then she punches him in the face. Her actions support a personality that is tough with a no-nonsense approach to her grandson. One interpretation of the poem is as a metaphor. The boy's actions in the alley represent his whole attitude toward life. His grandma's words represent her love for the boy. Her actions represent her stand against his acting out.