Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza Literary Elements


Memoir, critical theory, poetry

Setting and Context

Chicano communities just north of the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.

Narrator and Point of View

The first section of Borderlands is written in first person, and narrated by Gloria Anzaldúa. The narrator and point of view is more nebulous, and varies, in the poems which make up the second section.

Tone and Mood

Anzaldúa's tone is often angry and impassioned, as well as tender towards her community. The mood of the text is serious, energized, and hopeful.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is Anzaldúa and the Chicano people, especially Chicana women. The antagonist is the U.S. state and its laws, culture, and customs, as well as patriarchy within Chicano and Indigenous communities.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between Anzaldúa/her people and the occupying U.S. state which marks them as other.


The climax comes at the end of the first section when Anzaldúa asserts that the injustice at the border has not changed in centuries, but that the time is coming when the land will be liberated.


By stating that the land "was Indian always/ and is/ and will be again," Anzaldúa foreshadows the fall of the U.S. state as it currently exists.



Anzaldúa's idea of the "new mestiza consciousness" is an allusion to the ideas of the Mexican philosopher Jose Vascocelos, who proposed that a mestizo race would inherit the earth. Anzaldúa both borrows from his ideas and transforms them to be less essentialist about race.



The Coatlicue state paradoxically both causes an impasse which makes creativity difficult, and is the source of Anzaldúa's creative energy.


Anzaldúa draws a parallel between the story of the myth of la Chingada, in which an Indigenous woman was blamed for the defeat of the Aztecs, and the story of Indigenous women as a whole, who have been brutalized by colonizers and betrayed by their own people.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

Anzaldúa often uses various body parts to stand in for people, such as the "brown faces bent backs" in "el sonavabiche."


Anzaldúa sometimes personifies the serpent as a more humanlike being.