Malintzin (La Malinche)

        I.            Who is La Malinche?

A.      Translator/guide/political go-between for Cortes

B.      Origins are unclear

1.  Given name believed to be Malinalli, otherwise known as Malintzin, but this is unclear

2.  Probably upper class, of Nahua origin – reportedly the first born daughter of a high noble

3.  Reportedly  sold to Mayan slave dealers after father’s death, possibly to protect family inheritance

4.  Given to Cortes by a Tabascan leader, who possibly captured her in battle

5.  Not unusual from Mexican Amerindian noble women to be traded around like this

      II.            View of the Conquerors

A.      Role as a guide and go-between unusual in Spanish culture (and in Mexican Amerindian culture as well)

B.      Hernan Cortes

1.  Bore a son of Cortes. who named her Marina; later he marries her off to another Spaniard

2. Cortes barely mentions her in his letters to the king

3. Mexican literature indicate a romantic relationship; Cortes’ actions suggests a more strategic mindset

C.      Bernal Diaz

1.  Obviously had a high opinion of her

2.  Places here prominently in his account; praises her often

3.  Very unusual for Spanish literature of that age

    III.            Amerindian views

A.      Not a lot of evidence to go on

B.      Visual evidence from codices written after the conquest suggest she was seen as highly important

1.  From the History of Tlaxcala (1580s)

2.  From the Florentine Codex  (1540-85)

    IV.            Colonial Era

A.      Spanish colonial literature saw her as virtuous

B.      A ready convert to Christianity

C.      A symbol of America working towards a new culture

      V.            Independence era and Nineteenth century

A.      Nineteenth century Mexico saw here as a serpent of Eden

1.  Rejected her, seen as a symbol of Spain

2.  Serpent image closely associated with prostitute/seductress imagery

B.      Stands a s Mexican Eve to the Virgen de Guadalupe

1.  La Malinche becomes all that is evil in colonial understanding of women – selfish, rejecting, proud, tainted, prostitute

2. Guadalupe is all that is good in this view – nurturing, pure, giving, humble, pious

C.      La Malinche becomes a symbol of all who sell out the nation to foreigners (malinchista)

D.      La Chingada – a symbol of rape of Amerindian women by Spaniards and the loss of children from Amerindian culture

    VI.            Modern views

A.      Conflicting views – seen both as traitor to the nation and as a founder of Mexican culture

B.      Octavio Paz (1950) re-imagines her as a violated mother

C.      Modern Mexican feminism has emphasized her role as a mother of mestizos

D.      In general a symbol of the mestizo, although an Ameridian

1. The inherent conflict of pride in mestizaje

2.  Must come from violation or betrayal

3. Any shame on her reflects on them

4. Thus many reject any negative images

E.       Symbol of patriarchal relationships in Mexican history and modern society

F.       As seen in the work of Diego Rivera

G.     Viewed by some as the first Latin American (as seen by Alfredo Macros Martinez, 1940s)