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charlasweb [userpic]
by charlasweb (charlasweb)
at May 30th, 2006 (10:43 am)

current mood: contemplative

Okay, so I finished Malinche and started Son of a Witch.   It was a good weekend to get reading done, what will all the procrastinating and pretending I wasn't going back to work today.

In Chicano/a literature, there are three main female characters that are used over and over again.  

The Virgin: Most often, this is the Virgen de Guadelupe
The Mother: Sometimes this is the Virgen de Guadelupe, other times it's La Llorona
The Whore: Most often this is Malinche's role, the role of Mallinalli in the novel

Often at least one of these characters is the primary focus of the novel.  There's also a whole lot of virgin/whore conflict in this literature.

I think that the thing I like most about this book is the way it deals with these archetypes, showing the conflict, blending them together.  It makes the claim through example that women are more than one, they are a combination of these archetypes.  Most often Malinche (or Mallinalli) is looked on as a traitor to her people, Cortes's whore, and the  reason the Aztecs were defeated.  Esquivel seems to try to combat this view of her protagonist as skewed and simplified, a definition given to her by men who didn't understand her.

I also like the explanation of how Spanish traditions were layered over Aztec traditions.  Tonantzin becomes Guadelupe, etc.   This is actually fairly common in this literature, but I'm always fascinated by it.

What I didn't like is that, compared to Like Water for Chocolate, this novel seemed a little flat and unimaginative.  I know that she did quite a bit of research for the book, and maybe that had a negative effect.  At times, she seems more impressed with her own ability to explain the roles of different Aztec gods/goddesses than interested in telling a compelling and interesting story.  She relies on some tired plot devices that just don't come across as believable and she drops others completely.  For example, what the hell happened to Mallinalli's father?  I get that he died, but how?  This is important.  

So, in a nutshell, there are glimmers of greatness in this book, but for me- it was a disappointment.  Perhaps my expectations were too great.  Perhaps it's a sophomore slump.  What did you think?


Posted by: PeppermintGloom (peppermintgloom)
Posted at: June 3rd, 2006 05:52 am (UTC)

Ah, I see what you mean about the father now. She did kind of drop the ball on that storyline. Maybe she meant to mention that he had been a human sacrifice, and she never got around to developing that part of the story? (I don't know; it sounds good, though.)

Never, under any circumstances, should a writer refer to a penis as a "member" and expect to be taken seriously.
Exactly. I can't remember if you were in the basement when we wrote the terrible romance novel and tried to come up with as many horrible euphemisms for penis as possible. As you might expect, hilarity ensued. I'm reminded of this every time I read a novel wherin the author uses the word "member" in place of penis.

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