The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Department of English

Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/La Frontera, "The New Mestiza," 1987

  1. What are some features of Gloria Anzaldua's style? Is it an appropriate one for conveying her points? (shifts in style, interspersed poetry, language shifts)
  2. What is the effect of the interspersed (and only partly translated) Spanish passages?
  3. What do you make of the fact that the frequency of the interspersed passages increases toward the end?
  4. What notion of "una raza mestiza" does she attribute (with some alterations) to Jose Vascocelos? (2212) Who was he? (Mexican educator and minister of education, 1882-1959)
  5. What is the psychological effect, in her view, of a life between and within several cultures? What causes this process to be a struggle (una lucha)? (2212)
  6. What are some metaphors Anzaldua uses for the situation of mixed-ethnicity? (struggle of flesh, struggle of borders, an inner war, need to see with serpent and eagle eyes, act of kneading, 2214)
  7. Why is it not sufficient to defend one's beliefs through combat? (2213, both sides are reduced to a common stance of violence)
  8. What are some potential benefits of cultural ambiguity? (2213-15, one can turn ambivalence into something else, an emotional event may invert ambivalence, 2213, plurality) What kinds of thinking does she believe need to be discarded? (2214, breaking down of subject-object consciousness, not that of oppositions but an ethical element, a mestiza consciousness)
  9. On what grounds does she consider herself cultured? (2214, helping to create a new story to explain the world and our participation in it)
  10. What is meant by "morphogenesis"? (2215) What life processes does she associate with the mestiza woman? (2215, making of corn, all stages of the making and consuming of food)
  11. How does the mestiza take inventory? (2216, creates new notion of self, discards and selects, "I am an act of kneading")
  12. What are the implications of this choice? (vulnerability, forms new self from depths)
  13. In "Que no se nos olivide los hombres"--that we not forget the men--what explanation does Anzaldua give for the phenomenon of machismo? (2216-17, compensates for loss of sense of dignity and respect)
  14. What does she see as its results? (alcoholism, brutality, drug abuse)
  15. What sorts of men does she see as relatively free from contempt for women? (gay men, a few others, 2217)
  16. What forces will encourage Mexican-American men to change? (2217)
  17. What does she see as the potential contributions of mestizas and gay people on the processes of evolution? (2218) Why do you think she mentions the idea of evolution frequently?
  18. What does she see as her role vis a vis white culture? (2218, mediation) What do mestizos desire from gringos? (2219, acknowledgement of their needs and past history, end of ignorance)
  19. What forms of knowledge does Anzaldua believe will bring about change? (2219, knowledge of histories of Latin America)
  20. What does she see as the necessary antecedents to social and economic change? (2219, change in inner consciousness)
  21. What meanings are associated in her mind with celebrations of December 2nd? (day of the chicano and chicana)
  22. When returning to her original home, what does she find pleasant and what does she regret? (2221-22, poverty)
  23. What final scenes does she describe, and how do they image the essay's themes and conclusion? (2222-23, tending to growing things, plants)
  24. What are some comparisons between Anzaldua's views and concerns and those of Langston Hughes and Henry Louis Gates? Houston Baker? bell hooks? Some contrasts?

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