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A Literary Analysis on “Mother Tongue” By Demetria Martinez Essay
2507 WordsDec 2nd, 201311 Pages
A Literary Analysis on “Mother Tongue” By Demetria Martinez “His nation chewed him up and spat him out like a pinon shell, and when he emerged from an airplane one late afternoon, I knew I would one day make love with him” (Martinez, 3). And so it starts, the story of a nineteen year old Mexican- American girl named Mary (Maria; as he only chooses to call her), who helps out and eventually falls in love with Jose Luis Alegria, a Salvadoran refugee. Martínez's story of María is told against the backdrop of the 12-year civil war in El Salvador. Maria and Jose Luis develop a friendship that slowly turns into a typical novella love affair. Through their relationship, both characters are forced to confront the violence of their…show more content…
You can see how Maria’s El Salvador is empty of people, full only of romantic ideas. Jose Luis’s image of El Salvador, in contrast, totally invokes manufactured weapons; violence. Maria’s “self-projection elides Jose Luis’s difference” and illustrates “how easy it is for the North American characters, including the big-hearted María, to consume a sensationalized, romanticized, or demonized version of the Salvadoran or Chicana in their midst” (Lomas 2006, 361). Marta Caminero-Santangelo writes: “The main thrust of the narrative of Mother Tongue ... continually ... destabilize[s] the grounds for ... a fantasy of connectedness by emphasizing the ways in which [Maria’s] experience as a Mexican American and José Luis’s experiences as a Salvadoran have created fundamentally different subjects” (Caminero-Santangelo 2001, 198). Similarly, Dalia Kandiyoti points out how Maria’s interactions with José Luis present her false assumptions concerning the supposed “seamlessness of the Latino-Latin American connection” (Kandiyoti 2004, 422). So the continual misinterpretations of José Luis and who he really is and has been through on Maria’s part really show how very far away her experiences as a middle-class, U.S.-born Chicana are from those of her Salvadoran lover. This tension and resistance continues throughout their relationship. While María attempts to separate José Luis from his national