Chicano narrative fiction bases its literature around the Mexicans and their relationships with the United States and other nations like Spain with which they have over the years shared a lot in common. Feminist Chicano literature mainly focuses its theme on legendary heroines who are used in myths to portray certain aspects of life. In fact most of this literature has its base on the lives of women in Mexico, their triumphs and sufferings, male dominance and the resistive nature of women as they search for their place in the society.
Across a Hundred Mountains by Reyna Grande offers a description of two ladies who are brought together by fate. Juan Garcia a Mexican woman is seeking an escape route to travel to the US in search of his father who left home nineteen years earlier after a troubled marriage with Garcia’s mother. In a Tijuana city jail she meets Adelina Vasquez, a young woman who left California to follow her forbidden love to Mexico. These two women become one entity as they help each other both materially and spiritually in encouragement as they encounter the tough side of life.
In a nutshell, the first major item we can deduce from this novel therefore is the exploitation the women go through and what has become a common phenomenon in Chicano literature. Garcia’s family disintegration is solely based on the fact that his father El Otro Lado failed to realize his responsibilities and left the mother to take care of their daughter. This is neglect and exploitation of the woman.
Mythical Chicano literature is no exception to these kinds of incidents. La Maniche is the mythical Indian lady who was taken by the conqueror and raped. She is the victim of torture by the conqueror whom she has helped on several occasions helped Cortes the king evade death on more than one several occasion due to her prowess in interpreting languages. These incidents do not however elevate her social status and she remained bound to serving the king and acting as his mistress (Rebolledo, Tey D, and Eliana S. Rivero, 193).
Relating this to Garcia’s story we find a very uncomfortable turn of events of a girl looking to search for his long lost father who abandoned her and her mother while she was still young. Her affection for her father remains as high as ever. She is even carrying a weight of guilt as she thinks she has not done enough for her parents in their personal situations. “Her father's ashes. Her redemption. Perhaps after she delivered the ashes to her dying mother there would be no more demons to haunt her, and she would be able to lower her head on a pillow and sleep" (Grande, Reyna 12)”. This context is used by feminists’ Chicano literature to showcase the compassionate nature of women while providing a great platform to show that women have a role to play in all aspects of life socially, economically or politically.
The mythical feminist figures in most instances are said to possess mysterious forces that are life giving as well as life taking. This is one particular strategy that has been used by feminist literature to show the resistive nature of women as they seek to find their rightful place in the society. La Llorona has been interpreted in different literature to represent negative values such as inciting lewdness on men and casting diseases and like epilepsy on children. In other instances she is seen to possess supernatural powers capable of assuring victory in war (Rebolledo, Tey D, and Eliana S. Rivero, 192).
Garcia’s desperation and struggles as she takes care of her ill mother and her long and sturdy journey searching for her father are the supernatural powers that women can posses that can be considered as life giving. Combining the mythical feminist literature with the approach taken by feminist writers in recent Chicano literature seeks to deduce characteristics that are considered favorable for women while criticizing those that are deemed unfavorable. Garcia and Adelina can be used for instance to depict how women can stand for each other through hardships to propel them to better things ahead. Using such characters, women are able to realize their part in the society while using mythical feminine characters like La Maniche and La Llorona provides further proof that women can achieve legendary success as men too have been portrayed.
Grande, Reyna. Across a Hundred Mountains: A Novel. New York: Atria Books, 2006. Print.
Rebolledo, Tey D, and Eliana S. Rivero. Infinite Divisions: An Anthology of Chicana Literature. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1993. Print.