Even the violent ruffian and thief Jaibo, however, in Buñuel’s telling, must be contextualized within the facts that he has never known his mother or father, issues which he uses to gain sympathy from Pedro’s mother as he attempts a sexual relationship with her. Nonetheless, we can feel little sympathy for him, despite his somewhat charismatic demeanor and appearance, when, immediately after his escape, he galvanizes his former street friends (children who seem far younger than he) to rob and later beat an elderly blind street musician and soon after, to kill a former colleague whom he believes has betrayed him, Julian (Javier Amézcua)—a man/boy who has left the streets to work in support of his drunken father and suffering mother—by hitting him in the head with a stone and beating him with a club. The murder sweeps up the young Pedro into a world from which he can never escape, as Pedro perceives subconsciously from the beginning, presented in a surrealist-like dream he has the next night, where the dead Julien appears beneath his bed while his normally hostile mother arises to embrace him. The fact is his mother not only does embrace or even love him, but denies him the paltry food which she might offer. Pedro is cornered in a world where he is made guilty simply through his existence.
The complexities of this are the subject of the film, Pedro's true innocence being displayed by his adoption of another young boy, “Little Eyes (Mário Ramírez), whose father has abandoned him on the street. “Little Eyes,” in turn, is taken in and abused by the blind man (Miguel Inclán), while others of this street saga are interwoven into the tragic events, which include betrayals of love, sex, and even well-meaning social institutions, such as the rural school to where Pedro is finally sent.