Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Borderlands La Frontera: The New Mestiza Metaphors and Similes

Tongues of Fire (Metaphor)

In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” Anzaldúa states, "we are your linguistic nightmare, your linguistic aberration, your linguistic mestisaje, the subject of your burla. Because we speak with tongues of fire we are culturally crucified” (58). Here, she is referring specifically to Chicanos who speak a mixture of Spanish and English. The metaphor “tongues of fire” notes that this language is perceived as dangerous. Yet it also suggests that these tongues of fire will be the source of prophecy and revelation, and that they have the capacity to burn down the current order and build a new one in its place.

Border as Open Wound (Metaphor)

The first prose section of Borderlands begins, “the U.S.-Mexican border es una herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds” (3). Una herida abierta is an open wound, suggesting both a healed wound that has been torn open again, and a wound that has never been allowed to close. This metaphor emphasizes the violence of the border, suggesting that it is a physical gash in the land of the Southwest. It is also a physic wound in the minds of the Mexican people who live north of the border and are rendered illegal, other, or non-native to their own land.

White Laws as Bones (Metaphor)

At the end of Chapter 5, Anzaldúa anticipates that one day “the white laws and commerce and customs will rot in the deserts they’ve created, lie bleached” (64). The implicit metaphor here is between white laws, commerce, and customs and rotting bodies. This framework emphasizes the physical and material impact these abstract ideas have on people of color. It also implies that the progress of history is certain. Whiteness as a body is fated to die and to rot, as all bodies eventually do.

The Turtle (Metaphor)

In discussing her exile from her home, Anzaldúa states “I am a turtle, wherever I go I carry ‘home’ on my back” (21). This metaphor stresses that home is not relegated to physical place, but is also an intangible sense which can be carried as culture, language, etc. Anzaldúa frequently makes such comparisons between animals and humans, a literary choice which suggests that she understands that dichotomy to be another false construction that she aims to challenge.

Hands like Boot Soles (Simile)

In Chapter 1, Anzaldúa states, “Barefoot and uneducated, Mexicans with hands like boot soles gather at night by the river” (11). This simile between Mexican hands and boots emphasizes the way that hard physical labor transforms the body, makes it leathery and tough. Here Anzaldúa is mostly talking about the border in abstract terms, but by sometimes shifting her attention to the people who live there, she never lets the reader forget that these political considerations have individual human impacts.