Macaria's Daughter Analysis

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Situated near the U.S.-Mexico border during the early twentieth century is the fictional setting of Fort Jones, the outskirts of which is where Americo Paredes’ short story “Macaria’s Daughter” takes place. Emblematic of the disappropriation of Mexican land, as well as the increased marginalization of the Mexican people, the overbearing presence of Fort Jones reveals the struggle for preservation that characterizes the Mexican-American community of the story. “Macaria’s Daughter” is the tragic account of what happens in a small community when the upholding of Mexican values and institutions, and opposition to Anglo-American culture, become more important than a young woman’s life. In this essay, I will argue that “Macaria’s Daughter” is a text …show more content…

In the altar’s center is “a plaster image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, quarter-life size, its brown Indian face staring down on the woman” (Paredes 23). The implication of the stare is of criticism as the Virgin, symbolic of an ideal Mexican womanhood, looks down on Marcela, whose Anglo features starkly contrast with the Virgin’s, and whose actions are in opposition to the values that she represents. This carefully constructed scene is meaningful. Marcela’s lifeless body lies between the bed and the altar, and opposite to the altar is Marcela’s shrine dedicated to Hollywood movie stars. These are the visual images of the opposing forces that characterize the Mexican-American struggle for resistance against American cultural hegemony. The altar of the Virgin represents Mexican feminine ideals, and the shrine of Hollywood movie stars showcases American ones. Marcela herself lies “between” these two altars/shrines, distinct from neither one nor the other, and belonging to neither (Paredes 23). These relationships of proximity, of going between, are symbolic of the Mexican-American experience at the time, and is paralleled by the distinct, yet interconnected spaces of the Anglo Fort Jones and the surrounding Mexican-American community. The image of the Virgin, and the layout of the shack where Marcela’s body is found are representative of the conflict between Mexican and American culture represented in this story, while Marcela’s death expresses the

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