Friday, October 24, 2008

La Gritona 2

I found "Eyes of Zapata" to stand out as the best and most resonant story in the book. It was also the longest. It shows how Cisneros can write outside of her modern Chicana persona, and take on the voice of a completely different woman in a completely different time and place. The protagonist of this story is purely Mexican, a woman of the Revolution. Even Emiliano Zapata, hero of the Revolution, hero of Mexico, does not escape Cisneros' criticism. This story sees a much less political side of the Revolution...I don't want to say the female side because Cisneros would be enraged if I implied that females don't understand politics; this isn't what I mean....I mean that it is a more domestic and human view of the Revolution, which takes love and family and everyday life into account. Even in this story, the man continues to be the intangible, the unreachable, the elusive beauty and strength in the woman's life. Her descriptions of his body, his hands and feet, border upon idolatry. She worships him and his beauty, and she needs him. In her love, she is blinded and trusts him, which is always a mistake according to Cisneros. When he betrays her, she is hurt, but when he comes back to her again and again, she realizes that in the end, she also holds power over him. Perhaps the woman's love for Emiliano is intensified because of his intangibility, whereas he is able to detach himself from her because he has possessed her from the beginning, since he kissed her under the tree. Again Cisneros emphasizes the difference of a woman's love and a man's love...women are possessed by men, and men are solely possessors and never possessed.
However, the recurrent theme of mystical or primal female power is also prominent in Ines, the protagonist. Her ability to see things in dreams, her ability to leave her body and fly over the countryside, all-seeing, a spirit, these attest to her depth of wisdom and power. To Cisneros, women are magical, and their power is often one misunderstood by men.
This misunderstanding results in suffering for women; Ines' mother was a bold and mystical woman and was killed for it.
In the end, despite the fact that he leaves her time and again, Emiliano returns to Ines time and again, and she accepts her fate. Despite her magical strength and wisdom, she is still resigned to suffer at the hands of the man she worships and loves.
And Emiliano is oblivious to it all. Throughout the whole story he is asleep, at peace, while she has turmoil inside of her. While she watches him from the skies in another woman's bed, he is oblivious. This seems familiar to Cisneros; her other stories reflect similar male attitudes.
This story and all the stories we have read in class are really interesting to me because my mother is Mexican...she came to Canada when she was 20. And many of the female attitudes in the books we've read are something I have grown up with my whole life: the adaptation of Catholicism into a slightly mystical, folkloric religion mixed with elements of Aztec and Maya beliefs; the belief in supernatural or spiritual power in women; the feeling of oppression by men and the culture of machismo (how many times has my mother told me, just like in the novel, "never marry a mexican!"; the idolatry of men on the other hand; and a very colourful, generous way of loving. To me, Cisneros' book rings very true.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

La Gritona

Much like Tomas Rivera, the many voices of Chicanas in this novel fuse together and become one voice which qualifies their existence. Unlike Rivera, it is a purely female voice.
A central issue in this novel is power struggle between men and women. To Cisneros, the chasm between the sexes is a deep one. There is little harmony. No man can be completely trusted; even grandfathers, fathers, have done their share to make mothers, wives, suffer.
But in bittersweet, poetic language Cisneros recognizes how much women can need men, and worship them, and how they can give all of themselves knowingly to someone who will hurt them, to watch them as they sleep and hold them after they've been hit. It's painfully beautiful and very real. Not always is the man abusive, weak, or cowardly, but he is never as strong as the woman. Cisneros' women love their men more than their men love them and they know it. They accept humbly that a woman's way of loving is much more vast and hurts so much more.
If you read the "About the Author" section, it says, "she is nobody's mother and nobody's wife". Like her characters, it seems Cisneros is portrayed as some sort of survivor, who in the end can only trust herself.
Underlying every story there is a recognition of woman's primal power..."You're nothing without me. I created you from spit and red dust"(75), says one of her characters to a man, emphasizing with imagery the power of creation that women hold above men.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hasta ahora...

Hasta ahora tengo que decir que la mejor cosa que hemos leido ha sido lo de Jose Marti. Simplemente porque es la lectura que me hizo sentir algo mas profundo que las otras. Cuando escribi mi blog de Jose Marti, estaba llena de sentimientos, pasiones, ideas que corrian por mi cabeza. Las imagenes que pintaba Marti eran las mas bellas, las mas reales, las mas humanas, y el las describia con su profundo talento literario y filosofico. Y aunque el era cubano, ni Chicano o imigrante a los Estados Unidos, el entendia realmente, perfectamente, lo que era America y lo que sigue siendo hoy....vio el pasado de America, el presente, y tambien el futuro que vendria. A veces la vista del exterior es mejor que la interior; Marti entendia mas claramente el espiritu de America que los Americanos que observaba.
Asi que releyendolo no me cuesta demasiado.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Criticism of religion in "y no se lo trago la tierra"

Unquestionably, Tomas Rivera is criticizing the role that religion plays in the lives of the migrant workers. Since religion is an inherent part of the lives of the characters, it is inevitably a part of almost every story. And Rivera seems to think that religion is one of the oppressive factors keeping the migrant workers in the vicious cycle of a troublesome life full of exploitation and suffering. He criticizes the Church on a moral level: the chapter in which the protagonist sees the nun and the priest making love in the sastreria puts emphasis on its hypocrisy. The young man is trying to find out who he is, his place in society, and religion is a huge obstacle to this. Taught that sex is a sin, something dirty and base, he is told to deny himself and one of the core elements of his identity. He criticizes religion at a grassroots level - where priests find it more important to take donations for the parish fund than to address problems in the community, the problems that Rivera is describing for us.
Rivera takes a very existentialist view on life: the protagonist must make his own live, take control of his own destiny, and break away from the vicious migrant cycle which is partly imposed by religion.
The protagonist questions good and evil...he asks: what is good? what is evil? He curses God and calls out for the Devil, and sees that life is arbitrary, that religion doesn't have control of his life. He questions his mother's belief that there is really a God out there who will grant your wishes if you are good and punish you if you are bad. What kind of God is that, he asks?
In the very end, when he climbs out from under the house, he is free from this oppression...he smiles because he realizes that he is free, he is in control, it is his life to live and no one else's...that he hasn't lost anything, and that everything is related....therefore that everything is in his control.