George Washington Gomez Book Critique: Term Paper

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Mexicans were treated as an inferior class and an inferior race of people, in both the rhetoric of the nation and in the actual physical subjugation and displacement they were threatened by as a community. Thus, individuals such as Gualinto came to regard themselves as inferior, or the 'part' of themselves that was Mexican, as inferior.

Such external threats created internal, psycholgical ideological impingements in the vulnerable hearts and minds of young people like Gualinto. He becomes eviserated with self-hatred and feels he must chose between whiteness and success and Mexicanness and failure. The racially polarizing and divisive rhetoric of the Agnlos not only injures the Mexican community in colonially exploitive fashions, rendering them into a nation of colonized peoples vs. The Anglo colonizers, but also creates divisions within the community itself and within the hearts of its people as it steals away the great resource of the revolutionary, ideological fervor of the young, and thus community unity.

When the main protagonist Gualinto is born so pink-skinned that he is mistaken for white, this is met with approval.(32) Other members of the Mexican-American community attempt to 'pass' as 'better' (presumably) European Spaniards. But while Gualinto's own attitude toward darker-skinned Mexicans becomes one element in his initial rejection of his community, Gualinto also has a recourring, wistful dream as a child "to reconquer all the territory west of the Mississippi River and recover Florida as well" (282). The boy desires power, and power means whiteness, yet he knows, deep down inside that he is Mexican, not an Anglo, despite his fair skin, light brown hair and blue eyes. "Why?" he would ask himself at night. "Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep on fighting battles that were won and lost a long time ago? Lost by me and won by me too? They have no meaning now." (282) in this phrase, Gualinto refers not simply to military battles, but to ideological battles of brown vs. white, which he assumes that the whites have won.

Astutely, author Parendes sees oppression not just between Angloas and Mexicans, but in other elements Mexican's forced identity crisises.
In the border society he depicts, divions are everywhere, in terms of skin color and even between the genders. One of the most progressive aspects of this novel is the novel's construction of gendered behavior as it relates to female liberation and sufferage. Women in the novel internalize a gendered code of behavior just as Guanlito internalizes a racially coded norm of behavior. Gualinto's mother calls her son a coward when he hides from the sound of gunshots, as a boy saying he is less than a man, causing him to strive later on in his life to enact great military achievements. He overreacts to seem like more of a man, and dreams of becoming like Gregorio Cortez or Cheno Cortinas (54).

In contrast to encouraging her son to be bold, Maria is possessive and domineering of the presumably vulnerable female sexuality, as she forces Carmen to forego her job at a downtown store because she believed both Carmen "had the instincts" of a whore." (227) Like prohibition of a vice such as alcohol, however, hypervigilance of morality, however, fosters the vices it hopes to erradicate -- moral superiority creates immorality in children, domination of a people creates revolution rather than submissive acquisition. The false lie of hyper-machismo advocated by Gualinto's mother shows that the narrative is not unsympathetic to the boy. The narrative rather casts Gualinto as a victim of history, a man to weak to resist the dominant ideology of his day, an ideology that wears down the borders of his sense of self and identity and thus creates a person who is toxic rather than progressive to the advancement of his people.

Works Cited

Paredes, Americo. George Washington Gomez: A….....

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