La Malinche, often referred to as “the mother of all mestizos” is one of the most controversial figures in Mexican history. She’s been called a traitor and a victim. She was a Nahua woman who acted as translator for the conquistadors in the early sixteenth century. She became Hernan Cortes’s lover and their child, Martín, is often called the “first mestizo.” Mestizos are the mixed race people of Mexico that make up 60% of the country. Her legend led to the creation of the term “Malinchista.” A Malinchista is a traitor, or someone who denies their Mexican culture in favor of another.
But since the 1950s, female writers have been trying to reclaim and vindicate the story of La Malinche – not just in Mexico but also here in the U.S. Chicana writers relate to La Malinche. They too are stuck between two cultures: their Mexican heritage and the U.S. culture they live their daily lives in.
We look at who La Malinche was and what she has come to represent over time.
Here is an extended and uncensored version of the piece:
Photo via Wikipedia
5 thoughts on “La Malinche: The Story of Mexico’s Eve”
“She became Hernan Cortes’s lover” says the editorial – so callously fitting the history of rape into the dominant narrative of native women falling in unrequited love with white male domination. “Cortes’ lover” as if writing the first act in a sexual romance novel. Second act, “she contracted syphilis but used magical herbs to cure herself”… The post-modernist piece betrays the dominant narrative: Mexicans hate themselves, Mexican men hate Mexican women, Mexican self-hate is a cultural trait of their breeding…the gentle racism of white liberalism masked by the pen of a “Latin”-a. In the voice of the oppressor no matter the ethnic identity of the bicoastal author. The complexity of Spanish invasion and survival by our ancestors is not the making of Octavio Paz – it is the bloody history of a colonial chapter in our history which has not yet closed. People like Malintzin were not caricatures – they were survivors. What are the stories of the countless women raped and killed by Cortes and his men, the native girls molested and impregnated by spanish priests, the women left for dead with venereal diseases, and the torturous survival of rape with a child of that rape to care for. Or, would the author question the allegation of rape because a rape kit was not used quickly enough? If you choose to write about our ancestors, write history – not sadism.
There is actually so much wrong with your piece it should be reported for misogyny. What’s with the cackling at the discussion of the first rapes of indigenous women? Are you not aware that Pocahontas was a child not a woman when faced with John Smith? Your understanding of “slavery” in Mesoamerican culture is warped and ahistorical.
She was not a translator, she was an interpreter. Translating refers to the written form of a language.
The anniversary of the capture of Tenochtitlan occasionned a post on Malinche over on my blog. I haven’t read much on her experience as a domestic abuse survivor, though she did seem to fit the criteria. Read more at https://thrillseekingbehavior.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/dona-marina-ghost-of-summer-betrayals/