In A Place to Stand a commonly recurring theme is the loss of humanity. He mentions his loss of humanity in jail, in solitary confinement, and when he is with his Teresa. It seems as though when he refers to loss of humanity, he is referring to events in which he does not act like a human, or does not want to act like a human, and thus his existence is not that of a human. I myself have never felt like I have lost my humanity. Sure I have been shamed, embarrassed and annoyed, but I never have really been prompted to act in an inhumane fashion. In addition, I have never really felt like a human being, but as myself. I think a person can not feel like a human until they have been forced to act as an animal. on page 134, Baca mentions” I’ve never gone into my memories so vividly before.” After attacking a person in prison, he was sentenced to solitary confinement. In solitary confinement he looks back on his life, and realizes all of the beautiful parts of it “ Outside I walk alongside grandpa, carrying his black lunch pail in the red wagon I pull behind us… When I am with him like this, life is beautiful.” After acting unlike a human being, and having his humanity ripped from him, Baca realized he was actually a human before going to jail. He realizes the parts of his life that were normal, and happy. During that time with his grandfather, he would have never looked at himself as a “human” but after acting unlike one he is forced to realize the contrast. The aspect of realizing what one has lost after one has lost it is common in many scenarios. In my life, I only realized how truly impactful my grandmother was after she died. I only saw her maybe twice a year and only for a few days at a time, but after losing her, whenever I visited I would almost expect to see her. In addition, when my dog passed away, my life felt a lot emptier as well. I would imagine I could hear him walking around, or find him running up to me and barking when I opened my door, but while I was with him, I never felt like he filled anything that could be taken away. In the book, Santiago Baca remembers his happy times after the change as a distraction, similar to what I did with my dog, as a way to accept his current state. His future was ruined, and he was not leaving prison for at least another 5 years. Only after losing his humanity could he then have an urge to strive and maintain some. After isolation he picks up his reading in a more intense fashion, ready to work hard to regain what he lost. He could only arrive at that point after he realized all he lost.
Accepting loss and living with change can be very motivational. In A Place to Stand Baca needed to go through this traumatic change and loss of humanity to realize a goal to strive for and ultimately live a successful life.