Across a Hundred Mountains

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Discussion Issues and Questions for, Across a Hundred Mountains, by Reyna Grande Author’s web site: http://www.reynagrande.com/

This novel is partially based on the author’s childhood of poverty and personal fears of abandonment when her parents left her and her siblings with grandparents to find work on “the other side.” As Grande has shared in interviews about the book, she wanted to tell the story of those who are left behind.

The story illustrates the overlapping influences of women’s status and roles in Mexican culture, and the social institutions of family, religion, economics, education, and politics. In addition, issues of physical and mental/emotional health, social deviance and crime, and social and personal identity are important in the story. Finally the desperation caused by poverty is central to the story, the desperation that drives people to leave their loved ones, commit crimes, turn to alcohol, lose hope, and even assume the identity of a murdered friend.

Key sociological concepts

American DreamFatalism Poverty: relative/absolute

Compadrazgo: godparentsFictive kin Social class

Culture of honorLearned helplessness Social deviance
Culture of shameMachismo/Marianism Social marginality
Extended familyPatriarchy Social mobility
FamilismPolitics of sex Stigma

Application of Theories: Functionalist, Conflict, Labeling, Feminist Standpoint

There are numerous symbols in the story; I’m sure I missed some of them, so add any of significance that I unintentionally omitted that you would like to discuss. I’ve listed symbols in alphabetical order.

Dead bodies: Juana’s father, the little boy on the bus, the body Juana sees in her attempt to cross the border, and finally at the end of the story, Lupe, Juana’s mother Dracula’s castle
Dual identities: light and dark, two faces of the moon, woman as Madonna/virgin and whore La Llorona
The moon
The “other side”
Owls
Rosary: Juana’s was...
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