Failing to Love
In her story “Never Marry a Mexican” Sandra Cisneros introduces the reader to the complex issues surrounding the racial and sexual identity of a Mexican-American woman living in the United States. The story is about a Chicana woman and how she seeks revenge on a white lover who has rejected her by becoming the sexual tutor of his teenage son. Cisneros give life to the protagonist Clemencia and paints her as a character in a modern day to demonstrate the pervasive negative impact on Mexican-American women, especially on Chicanas residing within the United States. Clemencia, the protagonist of the story, thinks “Drew, remember when you used to call me your Malinalli? It was a joke, a private game between us, because you looked like a Cortes with that beard of yours. My dark skin against yours…My Malinalli, Malinche, my courtesan, you said, and yanked my head back by the braid” (192). Clemencia is a painter, but she must support herself in other ways too. She sometimes acts as a translator; however for Clemencia Spanish is now the “native” language. In this discussion of her occupation, Clemencia pronounces “any way you look at it, what I do to make a living is a form of prostitution” (181). She feels as though when she is not painting she merely sells herself to make a living, much like La Malinche had to do in her relationship with Cortes. Clemencia constantly allows herself to fall in love with unavailable men who are always married and always white. This pattern results from her mother’s constant advice, “Never Marry a Mexican”. Clemencia’s mother, a lower-class Chicana woman from the United States who married an upper-class Mexican man, felt inescapable discrimination by both her husband’s upper-class family and mainstream U.S. society for her dark skin color. Her answer to this was to marry out, and supposedly up, by divorcing Clemencia’s father and marrying a white man. It is because of this example that Clemencia never sees Mexican men as...
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