The road to identity is not a smooth path for the Mexican American woman. The Mexican American woman is a woman of contradictions. There are so many identities that the Mexican American woman deals with, that often the effect is a feeling of fractured identity. One way to overcome the fractured identity is to "reclaim a ground for female historical presence" (Anzadula 6). Through a cultural historical reading of Anzaldua's Borderlands: La Frontera and Cisneros' Never Marry a Mexican we can see how a reinterpretation of myth and history can become the glue that holds the fractured identity together.
Whether intentional or not, it is hard not to place female Mexican American fictional characters into a mythical role. One of the most influential and often seen mythical women is La Malinche. La Malinche (1505-1529/1551)1 also known as Malintzin and Dona Marina was the Native American woman from the Mexican Gulf coast who was said to have played an important role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico. She was the first born child of the lord of Paynala. Her father died and her mother remarried and birthed a son. After the birth of her stepbrother Dona Marina became unwanted and was given/sold 2 to Mayan slave traders. Traded many times Dona Marina eventually was given to the Spanish who gifted her to Hernan Cortez. Cortez was taken with Dona Marina and decided that she must constantly be in his care. Malinche became Cortez’ translator, advisor and lover. She acted as a mediator between the Spanish and the natives, translating for both. In the tales of Malinche she is said to have bore Cortez a son and then she disappeared from the records. In modern day Mexico to be called “Malinchista” is to be called a traitor and a lover of foreigners.3
1 among many details of Malinche’s life the year of death is unknown and fiercely debated.
2 The records are not clear if Dona Marina was given away to slavery or if she was sold into slavery.
3 The history of La Malinche was taken from various sources all of which are listed in the works cited accompanying this essay.
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