Summary of Las Hijas de Juan: Daughters Betrayed

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 246
  • Published : August 27, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Josie Mendez-Negrete’s novel, Las Hijas de Juan: Daughters Betrayed, is a very disturbing tale about brutal domestic abuse and incest.  Negrete’s novel is an autobiography regarding experiences of incest in a working-class Mexican American family.  It is Josie Mendez-Negrete’s story of how she, her siblings, and her mother survived years of violence and sexual abuse at the hands of her father.  “Las Hijas de Juan" is told chronologically, from the time Mendez-Negrete was a child until she was a young adult trying, along with the rest of her family, to come to terms with her father's brutal legacy. It is a upsetting story of abuse and shame compounded by cultural and linguistic isolation and a system of patriarchy that devalues the experiences of women and girls. At the same time, "Las Hijas de Juan" is an inspirational tale, filled with strong women and hard-won solace found in traditional Mexican cooking, songs, and storytelling. In “Hijas De Juan: Daughters Betrayed”, Josie Mendez-Negrete begins with her life in Mexico.  Born in Mexico, in the state of Zacatecas, Mendez-Negrete recalls a very joyous childhood growing up in the midst of Tobasco.  Tobasco through her eyes was a vibrant town filled with her friends and extended family.  “Huele de noche, the sweet and spicy scent of the “smells-at-night ivy, lingered like morning dew in the bright yellow and red colors of the sunrise” (pg. 5). Her father, though, had dreams of acquiring wealth in "el norte," He worked sun-up to sun-down in the fields of south Texas. Returning home to Mexico with money to “support” his family, he spent his nights out at bars and womanizing.  Not knowing the effects his actions had on his daughter’s and his wife’s lives. “In that placid space, the madman’s actions were out of place, capturing a vision of insanity. The only ones that seemed to notice were the caged birds whose song warned of doom” (pg. 5). During the second part of the book, the author goes into detail of the horrid things her father used to do to her, her mom, and her sisters.  When Mendez-Negrete was eleven, her father moved the family to the United States and stayed in Santa Clara Valley. There her father began molesting his daughters, viciously beating them and their mother.   The violence began before Josie was born; Juan began to beat and abuse Amá, his beloved wife. Once his daughters, Josie, Mague, and Felisa were old enough, he began to abuse her sexually, physically, and verbally.  Although all of the abuse suffered the three girls was disgusting and terrifying, I believe Felisa, the youngest daughter, had it the worst. “Felisa didn’t make it easier for him. She continued to resist. She fought him. Screamed. Scratched. Hit. But her struggle was to no avail. He finally forced himself on her, tearing her insides into pieces until the mattress he kept in the basement became soaked – with her blood” (pg. 132). At this point of my reading, I couldn’t believe that what I was reading was real. How could someone have the ability to do that to an innocent child, better yet, three innocent children?! It gave me goose bumps and made me tear up. Mendez-Negrete’s father’s sexual abuse and incest ended up getting Mague pregnant. Because he was so upset that Mague got pregnant, he attempted to hurt his daughter’s son, Juan Carlos. “The threat of a beating if he didn’t stay still or if he moved froze Juan Carlos on the spot. His only defense was to cup his ears with his tiny hands as he tried to stop Juan’s slurs from invading his ears. Although muffled, he still heard “Fucking kid. Stupid Child.” Shaking like Jell-O, Juan Carlos dissolved into the driveway… Mague knew he had meant to kill her son this time” (pg. 133-134). In this portion, Juan attempted to run over his own son. This upset me even more. However, his abuse to his family was soon going to end.  During the remainder of the book Mendez-Negrete goes tells us the story of her and her family’s life...
tracking img