Borderlands/La Frontera is a semi-autobiographical work of prose and poetry, approaching subjects such as race, gender, class, and identity.
Literary scholar AnaLouise Keating conceptualizes Anzaldúa’s writings in Borderlands as a form of “poet-shaman aesthetics,” which argues that Anzaldua’s words are intended to have material implications. In particular, Keating draws from interviews in which Anzaldúa describes herself as a “shaman,” serving as an intermediary for individuals to connect them with their cultural background. Keating contends this role manifests in Anzaldúa’s poetry, with its frequent usages of metaphors and imagery as a means to articulate the experiences of oppressed populations and guide them toward emotional healing.
Another stylistic choice deployed by Anzaldúa in Borderlands is known as “code-switching,” that is, her interchanging usage of Chicano Spanish and English. According to scholar Melissa Castillo-Garsow, Anzaldúa utilizes this style to challenge conventional Western writings, while simultaneously maintaining Borderland’s academic legitimacy by limiting the usage of Spanish and Chicano vernacular in the book.