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In 1915, Gabriel Santibanez boarded a ship in Spain to cross the Atlantic. Arriving at the Mexican port of Veracruz, he set out in his newly adopted country to pursue wealth and prosperity. Years later, his nephew, Esteban Nino, along with several compatriots, makes the same journey in flight from the aftermath of the Spanish civil war. Seeking freedom and opportunity, the immigrants find themselves trapped amidst their dreams for the future, the new culture that now surrounds them, and the memories of their homeland. In writing Within These Walls, Luis Arturo Ramos has explained that he was interested in exploring "the process of acclimation or non-acclimation of an individual in a foreign context; the deterioration caused by monotony; the effect of time on character and conscience; and the capacity of memory ... as the container of a past life that continues to influence the present".