Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage - Vol. 2

By Erlinda Gonzales-Berry; Chuck Tatum | Go to book overview

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"Who ever heard of a blue-eyed Mexican?":
Satire and Sentimentality in
María Amparo Ruiz de Burton's
Who Would Have Thought It?

Anne E. Goldman

We went over the vast field of Mrs. Norval's virtues,
and the vaster one of the doctor's errors, all of which
have their root in the doctor's most unnatural liking for
foreigners.… That liking was…the cause of the doc-
tor's sending Isaac to be a good-for-nothing clerk in sin-
ful Washington, among foreigners, when he could have
remained in virtuous New England to be a useful
farmer. And finally, impelled by that liking, the doctor
betook himself to California, which is yet full of
'natives.' And as a just retribution for such perverse lik-
ing, the doctor was well-nigh 'roasted by the natives,'
said the old lady. Whereupon, in behalf of truth, I said,
'Not by the natives, madam. The people called 'the
natives
' are mostly of Spanish descent, and are not can-
nibals.… 'Perhaps so,' said the old lady, visibly disap-
pointed. 'To me they are all alike,—Indians, Mexicans,
or Californians,—they are all horrid. But my son Beau
says that our just laws and smart lawyers will soon
'freeze them out.' That as soon as we take their lands
from them they will never be heard of any more, and
then the Americans, with God's help, will have all the
land that was so righteously acquired through a just war
and a most liberal payment in money. (María Amparo
Ruiz de Burton, Who Would Have Thought It? 1872)


I. "Yankee Popocatapetls": The American Scene

The opening of María Amparo Ruiz de Burton's 1872 novel Who Would Have Thought It? disorients readers expecting the California landscape of her

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