As narrator and protagonist, Anzaldúa is the main character of her book. Born in southern Texas, near the U.S.-Mexican border, she was pushed out of her home due to her lesbianism and her desire to forge a career for herself rather than to act as the support for a man. She became a writer, a role which she describes as both immensely meaningful and deeply painful, due both to the inherent challenges of writing, and the difficulties of writing under the thumb of an oppressive culture. She identifies strongly both with the people of the border, and as an individual who cannot be assimilated to any one culture. She is instead interested in building up her own culture, rooted in her ancestral heritage and especially her Indigenous roots, but also coming from a feminist perspective which all of her cultures lack. In this guide, "Anzaldúa" is generally used to refer to the author as thinker and writer, while "Gloria" is used to refer to her as a character within the memoir.
The Virgin of Guadalupe
In her chapter upon snakes and goddesses, Anzaldua introduces Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is the Virgin Mary in the Catholic tradition. In Mexico City, the Virgen Guadalupe is enshrined in her own basilica. She is associated with purity and devotion and venerated among Catholics worldwide. Anzaldúa describes her as one aspect of the more complicated goddess Coatlicue.
Coatlicue is the Aztec goddess who gives birth to the moon, stars, and the god of the sun/war. An alternate name for her is Teteoh innan, or "the mother of the gods." Associated with multiple personalities, she is always considered a divinity representing the feminine energy. Two particular aspects of her divinity are widely celebrated: Tocih, the grandmother, and Cihuacotl, the snake. She is the patron of women who die during childbirth.
Gloria's mother comes up multiple times. She imposed strict, patriarchal gender norms on her daughter which Gloria came to reject, choosing lesbianism instead and embracing her power as a woman. The two are also separated by the fact that Gloria's mother is from Mexico, while Gloria comes from the border. However, Anzaldúa also honors her mother as a woman who suffered and who survived years of brutal manual labor which transformed her body.
Anzaldúa describes la Llorana as one aspect of Coatlicue, or the feminine goddess. la Llorana (which translates to "the weeping lady") howls and weeps because she has lost her children, and she must be honored as the part of womanhood defined by sorrow and loss.
La Chingada is the third aspect of Coatlicue, along with la Llorana and the Virgen de Guadalupe. In patriarchal myth, she is called the whore and blamed for the conquering of the Aztecs because she is said to have had sex with one of the Spanish invaders. Anzaldúa deems this narrative itself a betrayal of Indigenous women, and she honors la Chingada as representing female sexuality, which was removed from Coatlicue when Mexicans began to venerate exclusively the Virgin.
Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza Questions and Answers
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Essays for Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza
Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza by Gloria Anzaldua.