Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza Imagery


Anzaldúa describes the impact that American for-profit farming had on the land. She states, “Later the Anglos brought in huge machines and root plows and had the Mexicans scrape the land clean of natural vegetation. In my childhood I saw the end of dryland farming. I witnessed the land cleared; saw the huge pipes connected to underwater sources sticking up in the air” (9). This visual imagery emphasizes the way that irrigation disturbed the land and drove native plants exitinct, rather than just focusing on the way it let America grow new crops.


At the beginning of “Entering Into the Serpent,” Anzaldúa describes how, as a young girl, her mother killed a serpent. She illustrates her fear through vivid bodily imagery: “I stood still, the sun beat down. Afterwards I smelled where fear had been: back of neck, under arms, between my legs; I felt the heat slide down my body. I swallowed the rock it had hardened into” (26). This description makes the reader experience Gloria’s fear viscerally, because she describes it in such precise bodily terms. It also emphasizes the importance of the body in her choice to drink the serpent’s blood.


Anzaldúa depicts her writing in visual terms, “in looking at this book that I am almost finished writing, I see a mosaic pattern (Aztec-like) emerging, a weaving pattern, thin here, thick there. I see a preoccupation with the deep structure, the underlying structure, with the gesso underpainting that is red earth, black earth. I can see the deep structure, the scaffolding” (66). Although these descriptions are metaphorical, her language is so specific and establishes such a clear picture that the metaphor also becomes an example of visual imagery. This image of writing as a kind of artwork or skeleton emphasizes that her work contains a core of thought which evolves as the book is written.

Beauty at the Border

In the poem “Nopalitos,” Anzaldúa describes the meditative act of plucking out the thorns of cactus in order to prepare them for cooking. Although it's painful, she persists because she knows how delicious the final dish will be. As she does so, she pays attention to the world around her, where “the musty smell of dust hangs in the air/ mingling with the scent of orange blossoms./ Dogs sprawl in the heat/ tongues loll, drip saliva,/ flanks ripple off flies./ The wind shifts/ I small mesquite burning” (112). On their own, each of these images adds to the vivid sense of the scene which the reader gets from this poem. Anzaldúa uses more scent imagery here than she does elsewhere in the book, a choice which leans on the specific ability of scents to call back to the past; here, the writer of the poem is close to the day she is remembering as she writes. Additionally, this list of images suggests that the speaker is able to see the world more clearly as she works at the painful but worthwhile task of removing the cactus thorns.