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Crossing, Trespassing, and Subverting Borders in Chicana Writing

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Debora Holler

The border and border-crossing and its significance for the Chicana in a cultural, social, gendered, and spiritual sense are at the core of this book. The three oeuvres selected—Helena Viramontes’ The Moths and Other Stories, Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters, and Norma Cantú’s Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera—are eloquent examples of feminist Chicana writers who refuse to allow their lives to be restricted by the gender, social, racial, and cultural border and who portray how Chicana women rebel against the unfair treatment they receive from their fathers, husbands and lovers. Crossing and deconstructing the man-made borders means to leave behind the known territory and discover an unknown land, in the hope of finding a new world in which Chicana women have the same rights as white women and in which they can realize their self, develop a new mestiza consciousness and liberate themselves from patriarchal constraints and religious beliefs. The author shows how the newly won self-confidence empowers the Chicana to explore the opportunities this freedom offers.

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Abstract

Abstract

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Since the 1970s however, Chicano/a literature has been flourishing, reaching a peak of Chicana literature in the late 1980s and 1990s. Taking the border as a reference point, Chicanos/as write about their life experiences in that region and how it brings forth an entirely new culture. Unique writing styles and techniques complement these Chicana writings and show the cultural richness with which Chicana authors contribute to an exceptionally independent literature. For readers unfamiliar with Chicano/a culture and society this literature raises the awareness of the specific problems arising from living between two countries.

Through writing Chicanas attempt to create a world in which they can change their traditional fate of being a submissive woman to being a modern self-assertive woman who decides and speaks for herself. Border and border-crossing are important topics in Chicana writings and are analyzed in a cultural, social, gendered, and spiritual sense from a feminist Chicana perspective in the three works selected for this thesis: Helena Viramontes’ The Moths and Other Stories, Ana Castillo’s The Mixquiahuala Letters, and Norma Cantú’s Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera. These oeuvres are eloquent examples of feminist Chicana writers who refuse to allow their life to be restricted by the gender border and who portray how Chicana women rebel against the treatment they receive from their fathers, husbands and lovers.

In The Moths the focus is directed on the struggles of the Chicana at different stages in her life, highlighting patriarchal belief...

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