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.

1 comment:

Kaan said...

Hey Valerie,

I found what you wrote about "Eyes of Zapata" to be very interesting. It also was my favorite story in the book, as Cisneros captivated my attention with her passionate descriptions of Emiliano Zapata and his wife. I like what you said about the man always being the possessor. In this case, I think Cisneros wants to show us a classic example of a woman being in this somewhat typical situation. She most certainly wants us to see that even though Zapata was the hero of Mexico, he still treated his wife like crap. And although he did, she still felt the same love for him every time he returned to her.

Great observations, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts.