Saturday, February 28, 2009

La Malinche, Doña Marina, Malinali, Malinulli y Malintzín Tenepal

She has many names. She was born around the year 1505 in the Coatzacoalcos province, with the Aztec birth name Malintzín Tenepal (or Malinal). Her father was a tribal leader, and being born into nobility gave Malintzín special privileges of mobility and education. When Malintzín was young, her father died leaving her as his inheritor, until Malintzín’s mother, “still very young and beautiful” (García 123), remarried and bore a son. In order to pass on the inheritance to her new son and husband, Malintzín’s mother took Malintzín away in the night and sold her into Mayan slavery. Is it so ironic that la Malinche is the coined socio-historical term for vendida against her own people? Malintzín’s mother had a servant whose child coincidentally died, and used this dead child in Malintzín’s mock funeral so that her tribe would not discover the treachery and greed. In the essay Malintzín Tenepal: A Preliminary Look into a New Perspective, author Adelaida R. Del Castillo says, “To be sure, it must have been a very painful, traumatic and confusing experience to have gone from the drastic transition of Aztec princess to a Mayan slave” (García 123). Castillo insists that one can only speculate about Malintzín’s life experience between being sold into slavery and meeting Hernán Cortés, yet some historians say her Mayan slave life was that of “daily toil and drudgery” (Henderson 4), with a perpetual to-do list of food preparation, domestic chores, and caring for the children.
Then the (infamous?) Hernán Cortés arrived to her Mayan village and conquered its peoples. Out of their subservience to the new conquistador, Cortés was given Malintzín as a slave woman among 19 others and lots of material treasures. Malintzín was then christened Doña Marina by the Spaniards, because her intellectualism and knowledge and physical Indian beauty stood above the rest. According to Spanish recordings, Marina is described as compassionate, generous, understanding, and incredibly brave (particularly exceptional for a woman). She quickly became an essential to Cortés and his army when she could translate between the Aztec and Mayan languages. Marina quickly learned the Spanish dialect and was fluent in all the necessary languages. She is recorded to have always been directly at Cortés’ side throughout the Spanish conquest of the New World.
This is how Marina is commonly recorded in history: as the translator for Cortés, and further the essential tool that led Cortés and his followers to victory over the Aztec empire. Without her, most will claim, that Cortés could have never succeeded. She was not only his translator, but a guide, a consultant, “the nurse of defeated soldiers, the comforter of Cortés” (Adams 11) and sometimes an advisor. Because of la Malinche’s apparent devotion to Cortés and the Spaniards (the enemy, the colonizer) she is reputed all over Mexico and the U.S. Southwest Borderlands as the ultimate sell-out, a traitor, an evil-doer against her own people and family. Yet in a realistic context, what kind of personal experience did la Malinche have with her own family and people? She was sold into slavery by her own mother, and the tribes and villages of the Aztec empire were complaining endlessly about Aztec Emperor Moctezuma and his human sacrificial ways and bad taxing. So who turned their back on la Malinche? Like Castillo argues in her essay, one must take in multiple layers of historical information, not the sole fact of her as a translator, in order to carefully consider a “comprehensive account of Doña Marina’s behavior be given, for her actions were contingent upon the historical events of her time” (García 122).

Works Cited
Adams, Jerome R. Liberators and Patriots of Latin America: Biographies of 23 Leaders. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1991.

García, Alma M., ed. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings. New York, NY: Routledge, 1997.

Henderson, James D. and Linda Roddy Henderson. Ten Notable Women of Latin America.
Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1978.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

thursday night

laundry machine whirling, pounding fast. the shower mat whipping hard around inside with the blanket that has spoiled milk stained on it from the kitties tipping it over. dishwasher whirring. whirr whirr. lots of dishes finally inside cleaning. all kinds of silverware, all my cereal bowls, my favorite coffee/tea mugs and also the spatula mike uses to flip his grilled cheddar cheese sandwich. the frying pan is in there too (after many uses).
coffee stains brown outlined like an amoeba on my countertop finally wiped away with fresh pine lemon scent sanitizer. after inhabiting its spot near the coffee pot in front of the microwave for a few days. longs days. now it's thursday, 11:30 pm and some of these things are finally cleaned. but not my bedroom so much. a pile of clothes lumps high next to my dresser and i am not sure what is clean and wrinkly, and what is dirty and worn.
counter tops rinsed off. days-old cooked frozen-pizza crumbs fed to the dog and wiped onto the linoleum floor. garbage truck comes tomorrow, so we take out all the trash and recycling then open the garage and put the large containers out onto the street. fresh deodorized bag goes into the kitchen trash bin. i dump crumpled aluminum foil inside, the holder of our hooka ash.
i creep into my sister's room, collect all the 2/5's full hard-plastic cups and nearly-empty fountain soda cups and dump the remains down the sink. recycle and dishwasher bound.
still listening to the whirr whirr and the whirl whirl.
maybe i will get to the clothes tomorrow. maybe my sister will empty the dishwasher. maybe i should throw away that old yogurt in the fridge.
don't forget to mail mom the W2 from brooklyn pizza co. what's the point of filing freakin taxes from a $7.75/hr job anyway. who freakin cares.
don't forget to fill out the time sheet for kore press. don't forget to turn in the attendance sheet for the grrls.
don't forget to pay off the $11 co-pay bill from psychotherapist Dr. Grossman's office. $25 co-pay? yeah right more like over $40 co-pay after the fact they tell me. no more of that stuff. that $11 bill has been sittin there like a dusty old candle on my desk since last semester.
don't forget to make a dentist appointment and don't forget to rebuild the resume. oh the resume.
don't forget to check the mail box! tell mom you bought another $5 movie off of on-demand.
peroni is one of my favorite beers, especially on a thursday night when i need it most. thursdays i need it most.
don't forget to laugh. just don't. set the alarm clock 7:04am.