Sons of La Malinche

prohibited words | thesis | indiginistas | summary

Who was Doña Maria, La Malinche?

"We are the only persons who can answer the questions asked us by reality and our own being."

p. 73

“They too carry about with them, in rags, a still living past."

"It is not difficult to understand the origins of this attitude toward us. "

p. 65.

"But it is always an ambiguous if not a contradictory image: we are insecure . . . We attract and repel."



"The European considers Mexico to be a country on the margin of universal history, and everything that is distant from the center of his society strikes him as strange and impenetrable."

"The peasant, . . . In every country he represents the most ancient and secret element of society."

p. 65.

"Woman is . . . an enigmatic figure."

"She is an enigma." a living symbol of the strangeness of the universe and its radical heterogeneity."

"Woman" is "not only an instrument of knowledge, but also knowledge itself."

p. 66.

the worker: "Capitalism deprives him of his human nature."

p. 67.

Mexican hermeticism1 is due to the Indian Mother (secrecy, because of the need to keep hiding the crime of rape)

"the fragmentary man [person] of our time . . . the modern worker lacks individuality."

p. 67.

"It is said that we live in a world of techniques."

"salaried" but "lacks a true awareness of what he creates."

p. 68.

He argues "that we delude ourselves," and as Paz says, "we exhibit the traits of subjected people who tremble and disguise themselves in the presence of the master.”

Paz, p. 70.

"In many instances these phantasms are vestiges of past realties."  

prohibited words | thesis | indiginistas | summary

"All of our anxious tensions express themselves in a phrase we use when anger, joy or enthusiasm cause us to exalt our condition as Mexicans: "Viva Mexico, hijos de la chingada!"

it is a challenge and an affirmation, and an explosion in the air.

p. 74.

Aztec word xinachtli [garden seed] or XINAXTLI the fermented juice of the maguay transformed into chingaste used in Spanish --to drink the dregs-- Chingada

chingarse means to make the fool, "molest , censure or ridicule"

"The verb denotes violence, an emergence from oneself to penetrate another by force."

"to lacerate, to violate, to injure"

"The magic power of the word is intensified because it is prohibited."

"No one uses it casually in public."

pp. 74-80.

If they are capable humans can create meaning out of the senseless horror of a nightmare which is our experience of reality.

We are myth makers, story tellers, carriers of the ancient traditions, neither authentic or Spanish -- neither white nor black.

Mestizo -- narcissism -- gender confusion

prohibited words | thesis | summary

La Malinche; shame of the conquest -- the Amerindian woman who gave herself to Cortés.

The Mexican in opening up to the world-- through the alleged betrayal of La Malinche --was untimely ripped from the world center.

"The Chingada is the violated Mother.

The symbol of this violation is doña Malinche, the mistress of Cortés."

p. 85-86

If the Chingada (Aztec) is a representation of the violated mother, it is appropriate to associate her with the Conquest, which was also a violation, not only in the historical sense but also in the very flesh of Indian women."

p. 86.


The mountain in Mexico names "La Malinche" and the oil painting La Malinche" by Ruiz in 1939

"The symbol of this violation is doña Malinche, the mistress of Cortés."

Cortes and La Malinche

Cortés & La Malinche, 20th century oil painting

prohibited words | thesis | indiginistas | summary

Aztec -- Mixtec -- Toltec -- Olmec -- Chichimec -- Mayan diversity are all aboriginal peoples of today's Mexico.

"If we ask about the third figure of the triad, the Mother

We hear a double answer. It is no secret to anyone that Mexican Catholicism is centered around the cult of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In the first place she is an Indian Virgin; in the second place, the scene of her appearance to the Indian Juan Diego was hill that formerly contained a sanctuary dedicated to Tonantzin , "Our Mother," the Aztec goddess of fertility.

"We know that the Conquest coincided with the apogee of the cult of two masculine divinities:

p. 84.

"This phenomenon of a return to the maternal womb, so well known to the psychologist, is without a doubt one of the determining causes of the swift popularity of the cult of the Virgin."

"The Catholic Virgin, is also the Mother, . . . . [ who exists ] to provide refuge for the unfortunate."


"It is astonishing that a country -- should conceive of itself only as a negation of its origins."

"In this shout we condemn our origins and deny our hydridism. The strange permanence of Cortés and La Malinche in the Mexican's imagination and sensibilities reveals that they are something more than historical figures: they are symbols of a secret conflict that we have still not resolved."

p. 86-87.

"The Mexican condemns all his traditions at once, the whole set of gestures, attitudes and tendencies in which it is now difficult to distinguish the Spanish from the Indian . . . . The Mexican does not want to be either Indian or Spanish. Nor does he want to be descended from them. He denies them. And he does not affirm himself as a mixture, but rather as an abstraction: He is a man. He becomes the son of Nothingness.

"It is astonishing that a country -- should conceive of itself only as a negation of its origins."

"This attitude is revealed not only in our daily life but also in the course of our history, which at certain moments has been the embodiment of a will to eradicate all that has gone before."

p. 87.

prohibited words | thesis | indiginistas | summary


“They are impalpable and invincible because they are not outside us but with in us…they are supported by a secret and powerful ally, our fear of being . . . .

Their origins are in the Conquest, the Colonial period…”

Paz, p.73.

“Mexico is all alone, like each one of her sons.

"The Mexican and his Mexicanism must be defined as separation and negation. And, at the same time, as a search, a desire to transcend this state of exile."

In sum, as a vivid awareness of solitude, both historical and personal. "History, which could not tell us anything about the nature of our feelings and conflicts, can now show us how that break came about and how we have attempted to transcend our solitude."

"History, which could not tell us anything about the nature of our feelings and conflicts, can show is how that break came about and how we have attempted to transcend our solitude."

p. 88.


prohibited words | thesis | labor | indiginistas | summary

NArcissusSons of La Malinche

by Octavio Paz

chapter four The Labyrinth of Solitude

The European considers Mexico to be a country on the margin

Woman is another being who lives apart . . . [an ] enigmatic figure 


Images of the working class are not” positive either
The modern worker lacks individuality.                                      


The complexity of contemporary society
The totalitarian regimes have done nothing but extend this condition
The world of terrorism, like that of mass production is a world of things.”                                                                                   


“The Mexican works slowly and carefully” (not industrially)                


“The most extraordinary fact of our situation is that we are enigmatic not only to strangers but to ourselves.”                                          


“Slaves, servants and submerged races always where a mask.
Mexican character of subservience is due to the nation’s history
Purely historical explanations are insufficient
It is a phantasmagoric reality
“these phantasms are vestiges of past realities.”                     

History…cannot dissipate them                                                  

Prohibited secret words without clear meanings
“Each country has its own ‘opaque’ words.                                


“hijos de la chingada!”                                                                

sons of a mother as vague and indeterminate as themselves  

“she is the mother…. A mythical figure….the long suffering mother
Aztec meaning residue or sediment, garden seed                     

Chingar       the idea of failure in Chile                                        

Mexico                 chignon                                                           

The idea of breaking or ripping open                                         

The violent relation between men and women
“The magic power of the word is intensified because it is prohibited.”

“Blasphemy is a prayer in reverse.”                                                    

“This conception as social life as combat fatally divides society into the strong and the weak.”                                                                    

the verb chingar – turns our world into a jungle                        

Chingada   It is nothingness itself”
The Chingada is the mother forcibly opened, violated or deceived.”


prohibited words | thesis | indiginistas | summary

Original sin in Spanish tradition     superiority of the father       

“We are alone. Solitude the source of all anxiety” the fall and our awareness makes us guilty                                                           

“In all civilizations, God the Father becomes an ambivalent figure once he has dethroned the feminine deities.”                                         


“the logic of the absurd is introduced into life.”                                  

an act of revenge.                                                   

“The essential attribute of the macho –power– almost always reveals itself as a capacity for wounding, humiliating, annihilating.”              

Christ the victimized redeemer is the idolized heroic role          

“The fervor of the cult of God the Son                                       

The Aztec   Cuauhtémoc       “falling eagle”                               

The mother                  virgin of Guadelupe = Tonantzin Aztec         

“a return to the ancient feminine deities”
The cult of the Virgin                                                                  

Goddesses of the ancient world and "Guadalupe is pure receptivity."       


Chingada  represents the Conquest
“The Mexican people have not forgotten La Malinche for her betrayal
the Mexican desire to (due to chingada) live closed off from the past


surprising that a country desires to live out a negation of its past
“should conceive of itself only as a negation of its origins.”               


prohibited words | thesis | indiginistas | summary

The Republic declared “but imply as men alone. All alone.”         


“The Reform movement is the great rupture with the Mother. This separation was a necessary and inevitable act, because every life that is truly autonomous begins as a break with its family and its past.”


“the feeling of orphan hood is the constant background of our political endeavors and personal conflicts. Mexico is all alone, like each one of her sons.”


prohibited words | thesis | alienation | labor | indiginistas | summary

defining terms;


1, from hermetic; hidden (also Hermetic ) of or relating to being sealed -- insulated or protected from outside influences:-- derived from an ancient occult, a tradition of hidden, sealed, or esoteric knowledge encompassing alchemy, astrology, and theosophy.

• esoteric; cryptic: obscure, an hermetic potient, spell, or curse.
hermeticism –hidden, cryptic or obscure--insulated or protected from outside influences .

ORIGIN mid 17th century: from modern Latin hermeticus, from Hermes [ the planet Mercury ], identified with the Egyptian god Thoth, regarded as the founder of alchemy and astrology.


The Labyrinth of Solitude, 1950