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Literary Wetback as Mexican America Literature

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“Literary Wetback” is Mexican America Literature Mexican American Literature is writings by people of Mexican ancestry who have resided permanently in the United States. Their writings include their ethnic identity in terms of characters, cultural situations and patterns of speech. This basic definition shows three requisites that must be present for a writing to be considered as Mexican American Literature, namely: 1) It is written by a person of Mexican ancestry who have resided permanently in the United States; 2) It deals with the life or concerns of Mexican Americans; 3) And, contains their ethnic identity showing historical and cultural significance. The essay “Literary Wetback” was written by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (El Paso).

It is a personal narrative. A personal narrative is a form or writing wherein “the writer relates an event, incident, or experience in his or her own life… The personal narrative incorporates vivid descriptive details as well as thoughts, feelings, and reactions of the writer. ” Hence, all information obtained from the essay comes from the life of the author, de Alba. In the essay de Alba reveals that: “I say I come from the border between Tejas and Mexico. .” And, “I was born into a strict, Mexican-Catholic family. .

That this strict Mexican-Catholic family has its residence in the United States…” These statements show that the first requisite for this piece of literature to be considered as Mexican American is that the writer is of Mexican ancestry and has resided permanently in the United States have been fulfilled. The second requisite is met with her narration of the life of people like her, children of Mexican migrants living in the United States, who have to follow their cultural practices and heritage, and yet live in another country which imposes a different set of practices.

The author calls it cultural schizophrenia that plagues their lives: “the influence and the inbreeding of Mexican and North American cultures… I do recognize its problems, cultural schizophrenia being the one that most concerns me in my writing. ” The third requisite is the presence of their ethnic identity showing historical and cultural significance. The ethnic identity is clear in her acceptance of the Mexican-American or “Chicanos” wherein she mentions their similar beliefs and practices.

To emphasize this point is when she used their superstitious belief in demons to characterize her cultural schizophrenia: “…Chicanos practiced the same rituals, listened to the same music, believed the same superstitions, ate the same food, even told the same jokes as my purebred Mexican family? Needless to say, my cultural schizophrenia transcended the real of my unconscious and became a conscious demon, grinning over my shoulder at every turn. ” “Literary Wetback” Expands Mexican American Literature “Literary Wetback” goes beyond the three basic requisites for a literary piece to be considered Mexican America Literature as obtained from the definition by Raymund Paredes.

Alicia Gaspar de Alba therefore expands the definition of American Literature by: trying to reconcile social discrimination between a race, the Chicano and the “Purebred” Mexicans living in the United States; and thereby proclaiming that there is no “Literary Wetback” but a Mexican American Literature with its own identity and uniqueness. “…Chicanos practiced the same rituals, listened to the same music, believed the same superstitions, ate the same food, even told the same jokes as my purebred Mexican family?

Needless to say, my cultural schizophrenia transcended the real of my unconscious and became a conscious demon, grinning over my shoulder at every turn. ” This quotation is a clear acknowledgement that there is no difference between the “Chicano” and “Purebred. ” It is safe to assume that the literature that they will produce being influenced by the same environment and background will be basically the same. The writer no longer distinguishes herself from them. In fact the “demon” that grins behind her back is non-existent for she realized that she is not a “Wetback” and neither are the “Chicanos. ” They have their own identity – Mexican American: “Chicanos did have a heritage after all, and I was living it!

At home I was Mexican and spoke Spanish, and yet we celebrated Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. At school, my language was English and we pledged allegiance to the American flag, and yet we prayed to the Virgen de Guadalupe. Naturally, imperceptibly, this bilingual/bicultural identity became the controlling image of my life, and nowhere did it manifest itself more than in my poetry. ” The beauty of this is that they have the best of both worlds leading them to a contemporary vision: “Chicanos are lucky because our heritage straddles two countries and feeds off two traditions, but Chicano culture feeds tradition as well, with change, with individual history, with contemporary vision. ”

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preview essay on Literary Wetback as Mexican America Literature
  • Pages: 3 (750 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Undergraduate
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