La Malinche

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  • Topic: Hernán Cortés, Aztec, Mexico
  • Pages : 4 (1339 words )
  • Download(s) : 287
  • Published : July 18, 2005
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"La Malinche." Slave, interpreter, secretary, mistress, mother of the first "Mexican." her very name still stirs up controversy. Many Mexicans continue to revile the woman called Doña Marina by the Spaniards and La Malinche by the Aztecs, labeling her a traitor and harlot for her role as the alter-ego of Cortes as he conquered Mexico. They ignore that she saved thousands of Indian lives by enabling Cortes to negotiate rather than slaughter. Her ability to communicate also enabled the Spaniards to introduce Christianity and attempt to end human sacrifice and cannibalism. Herself a convert, baptized Marina, she was an eloquent advocate for her new faith. As for the charges against her, they are in my opinion baseless. So let us visit this remarkable woman and examine the facts. All historians agree that she was the daughter of a noble Aztec family. Upon the death of her father, a chief, her mother remarried and gave birth to a son. Deciding that he rather than Marina, should rule, she turned her young daughter over to some passing traders and thereafter pro- claimed her dead. Eventually, the girl wound up as a slave of the Cacique (the military chief) of Tabasco. By the time Cortes arrived, she had learned the Mayan dialects used in the Yucatan while still understanding Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs and most Non-Mayan Indians. "La Malinche" did not choose to join Cortes. She was offered to him as a slave by the Cacique of Tabasco, along with 19 other young women. She had no voice in the matter. Up till then, Cortes had relied on a Spanish priest, Jeronimo de Aguilar, as his interpreter. Shipwrecked off Cozumel, Aguilar spoke the Mayan language as well as Spanish. But when the expedition left the Mayan-speaking area, Cortes discovered that he could not communicate with the Indians. That night he was advised that one of the women given to him in Tabasco spoke "Mexican." Doña Marina now enters Mexican history. It was she who served as the interpreter at the...
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