Constructing Mestiza Consciousness: Gloria Anzaldua's Literary Techniques in Borderlands/La Frontera-The New Mestiza

By Kynclova, Tereza | Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Constructing Mestiza Consciousness: Gloria Anzaldua's Literary Techniques in Borderlands/La Frontera-The New Mestiza


Kynclova, Tereza, Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge


In this essay I argue that the literary techniques in Borderlands/La Frontera--The New Mestiza as well as the form of the book are means by which Anzaldua (also) renders her identity politics--the Mestiza consciousness. In other words, Mestiza consciousness does not come into being solely through the content of the book and the meaning of Anzaldua's written words. It is chiseled also by a unique employment of multiple literary techniques that themselves embody a meaning and/or a value by which a layer of the writer's identity is implied. The essay provides an analysis of the strategic use of code-switching, first- and third-person transitions and related alternations in points of view from which Anzaldua portrays a single event. Bilingualism of the book is also paid attention to and it is argued that each of Anzaldua's languages refers to different value systems and to different lived experience. Further, this article shows at length the roots of Anzaldua's persuasion that writing can possess therapeutic and healing qualities both for the writer and the reader and that in general artistic creation bears transformative potentials.

The style of Borderlands is a hybrid style: poetry, description, essay--we cross genres, cross borders. It's a new poetics. It's a new aesthetics ... (1) (Gloria Anzaldua)

Borderlands/La Frontera--The New Mestiza is a book acclaimed not only for the author's portrayal of the path that has led to the invention of her new self--the New Mestiza. The approaches to the composition of the book and the combinatory techniques which have been used to describe the hybrid identity are hybrid in no lesser a degree and deserve equal considerations.

The work shows both the creative as well as the annihilating forces a person living in the borderlands--i.e. in between categories--must struggle against. Anzaldua describes the tension that exists "wherever two or more cultures edge each other" (2) and invents her personal literary style where two or more kinds of literary techniques are united in a single sentence. Anzaldua finds herself continually at a quest for an adequate means of self-expression; a style which would convey the internal hurt caused by historical, political, social, and also linguistic oppression and at the same time would embody the language which would perfectly fit her multiple identity--Mestiza consciousness.

Anzaldua is both the inheritor of the indigenous tradition and the bearer of the Western academic thought which she has obtained pursuing her university education. The authoress thus inosculates these two contradictory approaches to language, and the literary style of Borderlands/La Frontera projects the writer's attempt at their mutual fusion and interconnectivity.

As Anzaldua seeks a form of reconciliation of the two bordering cultures and her double linguistic background to both of which she belongs, she discovers a luculent instrument: the solution dwells in writing Borderlands/La Frontera bilingually.

Throughout the book the writer, gradually, composes a mosaic that in the end reveals a delicate new perspective for grasping the world's reality, and of course, a new approach to writing as such. Not only does Anzaldua challenge set definitions and categories of gender, ethnic and sexual identity, she also shatters the academic criteria a piece of writing should obey. In an extraordinary way the authoress combines the old with the modern--her native tongue and ever-so flexible English. She also alternates between first and third person narration, which indicates her step-by-step growing awareness of collective and individual identity.

The experience Anzaldua portrays can thus be understood as both a representative of Anzaldua's autobiography as an individual and at the same time as a representative of the universal story of the Chicano people. The authoress confers on her writing: " ... the literature that [I] write is not just about [my] experience; it's a cultural representation .

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Constructing Mestiza Consciousness: Gloria Anzaldua's Literary Techniques in Borderlands/La Frontera-The New Mestiza
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?