In his short-story collection "The Circuit," Francisco Jimenez recounts his experiences growing up as the son of migrant farm workers in California who are illegally in the country. He also describes his experiences in school, where he struggles with English but develops an interest in art.
Francisco's parents believe that California is their promised land, but after illegally entering the country, realize that life there is no better than life in Mexico. They live in a tent and must travel frequently to find work. This upheaval affects Francisco, as does his inability to speak or understand much English. He struggles in school, but finds solace in drawing. He is inspired to draw a butterfly after his class studies caterpillars, and his teacher enters the drawing in a children's art exhibit.
In Tent City where he and his family live, Francisco learns the values of community, hard work and survival. When a back injury forces his father to stop working, he and others take over. When his mother becomes pregnant and is no longer able to pick crops, others pitch in, and she becomes the community's cook. Francisco understands that he must do well in school if he wants to become more than a migrant worker.
His drawing wins first prize at the art exhibit, and Francisco decides to give it to the only real friend he's made in school. In many ways, his trajectory mirrors a caterpillar's, but before he can fully develop "wings" and fly toward a better life, immigration officials come to school and take him away, planning to deport him and his family.