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Evolution Of The Family In Latin American Literature

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“Evolution of Family in Latin American Literature”

Throughout the trials and tribulations of Latin America’s past one thing has always stood true, the importance of family. At times the family dynamic in Latin American culture was unbalanced and unfair to certain members. Family and traditions were always of the utmost importance in Latin American culture. Latin America has gone through a complete political transformation since its inception, and this was not always easy on its citizens. Many Latin American authors such as Laura Esquievel and Isabel Allende have done a spectacular job of connecting Latin Americas changing political landscape to the ever-changing family dynamic within Latin American families. The family unit is the most important thing in Latin American culture, each person’s role in the family evolves and adapts as society changes throughout Latin American history.

The family in Latin America could be loving and nurturing, but it could also be rigid and stifling like its traditions. Latin America is deeply rooted in tradition, and although some of these traditions are archaic they are hard to change. An example of this is found in Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water For Chocolate. Tita is a free-spirited woman who is in love and wants her mother’s permission to marry the man she loves. Mama Elena however, insists on keeping up with the tradition that her youngest daughter must never marry and forever take care of her until she dies. When Tita tries to argue Mama Elena says, “You don’t have an opinion and that’s all I want to hear about it. For generations, not a single person in my family has ever questioned this tradition, and no daughter of mine is going to be the one to start” (Esquievel 9). Although Mama Elena is nasty to Tita, Tita does not run away she stays and does her duty till her mother dies. Tita hates the tradition, but she still upholds her part of it.

These Latin American traditions were especially harsh and oppressive for women. Patriarchy was a common way of life used almost everywhere. A good example of partricarchy comes from the move Camila. Camila came from a wealthy family in Argentina, who loved her and wanted the best for her. Her father arranged a marriage for her, but Camila was not a typical woman of the times. She loved to read banned books and know more about what was going on in the world. Camila falls in love with a priest and they run away together. Eventually they are discovered and imprisoned. Camilia’s father was an important political figure and could have saved her and Ladislao from being executed, but he was too angry at her for betraying him. Fathers and husbands exerted absolute control over women in these times. They controlled womenthey married, how and when they reproduced, and in this case even if they died.

Latin American traditions are not the only rigid parts of its society. As the political landscape of Latin America changed it went through times of oppressive politics. Although the Mexican revolution is not talked about extensively in Like Water for Chocolate, the story of the De LaGarza family mirrors its sentiment. The Mexican revolution was all about two political groups fighting against each other over how the country should be governed, and one group wanted change. In the same way the De LaGarza family was a long standing institution with tradtions and rules, but Tita thought that were things that needed change. Tita’s actions were revolutionary and she got things that she wanted from them for example the end of the youngest daughter having to care for the mother until her death. The Mexican revolution ended in the overthrowing of the old dictator and the start of much needed social change. The story of the De La Garza family is an allegory for the Mexican Revolution.

Political change and the relationships within the family are constantly crossing paths in Isabel Allende’s novel The House of Spirits. Esteban, the family patriarch, is conservative and unbending in his views. He joins the senate. His daughter’s lover, his son, and his grand daughter are all revolutionaries, and Esteban does not approve of this. Eventually the socialists win the election and come into power. The conservative’s decide to devise a military coup and Esteban doesn’t realize that this is not the conservatives return to power, but a plan for a military dictatorship until it is too late. Allende weaves Chiles’ political history in with the history of the Trueba family. As Chile grows and changes and struggles so does the Trueba family.

Ultimately, society cannot move forward without change. Each generation in the literature we



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