Stranded Between Malinchismo and Marianismo: Rape and Virginity in Isabel Allende’s La Casa de los Espíritus and Albalucía Angel’s Misiá Señora

JORGE SARASOLA, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sheffield

The ‘Madre Virgen’ [Virgin Mother] and the ‘Madre Violada’ [Raped Mother] are two pervasive images of womanhood in Latin America, which inform the broader myths of marianismo and malinchismo. The first section of this article will briefly sketch the genealogy of these mythical constructions, before exploring their treatment in two novels written by women: Isabel Allende’s La Casa de los espíritus and Albalucía Angel’s Misiá señora. The second section compares both novels, focusing on the naturalisation of rape as a rite of passage, which will suggest that sexual violence goes hand in hand with class oppression. The third section will engage primarily with Misiá señora and argue that this novel is simultaneously a meticulous portrayal of marianismo and a sharp criticism of it. The final section will focus on the fact that La Casa features two raped mothers, suggesting that during times of war women’s bodies become part of the battlefield between men. The denouements of the novels are different, however: in La Casa there is an element of hope stemming from Alba’s willingness to forgive her rapist; but in Misiá señora love is an illusory idea and Mariana’s bleak fate leaves little room for forgiveness. Nevertheless, a common assumption underlies both marianismo and malinchismo: in neither of these myths do women own their bodies. This ultimately draws Allende and Angel back together. Though developing very different narrative styles, they both fight for the re-appropriation of the female body and voice from masculine power and discourse.

Malinchismo and marianismo in Latin America

During the conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Tabasco tribe gave several gifts to the leading Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés. Among animals, objects and numerous female slaves was a woman who would grow to occupy a preponderant role in the Mexican collective imagination, known in Spanish as La Malinche and Doña Marina (Malinalli and Malintzin were her indigenous names). She became not only Cortés’s lover, but crucially for the purposes of the conquest, an interpreter. Ever since, the figure of La Malinche has been reinterpreted according to the needs of different historical periods, thus blurring the lines between the historical and the mythical. As a term of derision, Margo Glantz explains that malinchismo gained popularity in Mexican journalism in the 1940s during the presidency of Miguel Alemán, when it was used to describe the ‘burguesía desnacionalizada’[1] [unpatriotic bourgeoisie].[2] In other words, the widespread belief that La Malinche – or Doña Marina – had ‘sold’ the Mexican indigenous communities to the Spanish conquistadores by becoming Hernán Cortés’s lover and interpreter was used as a metaphor to describe how the bourgeoisie was ‘selling’ their country to foreign interests. Jean Franco also claims that the term gained significant traction in the United States during the 1960s. As the Chicano movement began identifying itself with the plight of the indigenous communities, La Malinche ‘was thus once again the symbol of shame’.[3] In both cases, the underlying quality of malinchismo is that of female betrayal.

For the purposes of the present argument, I shall take a step back from analysing the political uses of the term and understand malinchismo in terms of the wider association between La Malinche and womanhood. Octavio Paz’s chapter in El Laberinto de la soledad, ‘Los Hijos de La Malinche’, provides a thorough and provocative analysis of this issue. Paz begins by describing the singularity of Mexicans who describe themselves as ‘hijos de la chingada’ [sons of the Fucked One].[4] The bulk of the essay is then used to dissect the variety of meanings of the verb chingar, in both Mexico and the rest of Latin America. The fundamental dichotomy is that ‘the person who suffers this action is passive, inert and open, in contrast to the active, aggressive and closed person who inflicts it’.[5] Despite its many possible meanings, Paz asserts that the idea of rape lurks in every single one of them. The Nobel laureate then takes an important leap to suggest that la chingada is associated with the conquest, given that it was a metaphorical violation in terms of the usurpation of the land, and a literal one due to the countless rapes of indigenous women. Finally, he uses La Malinche as the symbol for this usurpation and asserts that ‘the Mexican people have not forgiven La Malinche for her betrayal’, once again associating this quasi-mythical woman with betrayal.[6] Paz even suggests that malinchismo and marianismo go hand in hand in the Mexican consciousness: ‘In contrast to Guadalupe, who is the Virgin Mother, the Chingada is the violated Mother… Both of them are passive figures’.[7]

Unsurprisingly, this description has been widely attacked, especially by feminist writers. For example, Milagros Palma sees the Mexican author as contributing to the manipulation of La Malinche’s image in a way that places blame on females for tragedies perpetrated by men:

el pensamiento patriarcal utiliza una vez más a la mujer para responsabilizar de su “tragedia” y en vista de su condición maléfica legitimar la dominación y la opresión del mundo femenino.[8]

[patriarchal discourse blames women yet again for tragedies perpetrated by men and uses the alleged evil nature of the female to legitimise their domination and oppression.]

Sonia Montecino similarly argues that a common trope in myths is finding a culprit for public catastrophes and thus, in this mythical understanding of the past, La Malinche is blamed for the fall of the Aztec Empire.[9] Nonetheless, Palma and Montecino converge with Paz in seeing malinchismo and marianismo as two sides of the same coin: ‘La “orfandad del mestizo”, sin madre digna de su heroicidad implica su búsqueda de una madre perfecta. De ahí el culto a María, la Inmaculada sin pecado carnal’ [Given his condition as an orphan, without a heroic mother, the mestizo looks for a perfect mother. Hence the cult towards the Virgin Mary, free from carnal sin].[10] This idea is reaffirmed in Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano’s study of gender roles in Chicano theatre: ‘La Malinche’s presence in the culture is as pervasive as that of her polar opposite, the redeeming virgin/mother, la Virgen.’[11] While we should be critical of the underlying assumptions behind the constructions of these symbolic figures, it is clear that the ‘raped mother’ and the ‘virgin mother’ become antagonistic, yet influential images of the Latin American woman.

Evelyn Stevens characterises marianismo as the other face of machismo, which, as a movement stemming from the cult of the Virgin Mary in the Catholic Church, portrays a mythical image of the ‘ideal woman.’ Among the chief features Stevens identifies is not only premarital chastity but also postnuptial frigidity, further claiming that the death of a father or husband demands a rigorous mourning for life.[12] Moreover, when the husband is unfaithful, as the machista norm demands, the woman is bound to tolerate and accept it. Vanda Moraes-Gorecki agrees with this depiction in her synthesis of marianismo: ‘The behavioural attributes of humility, serenity, tolerance and submissiveness are perceived as necessary qualities for the ideal Latin American woman in her relations with men.’[13] While such descriptions certainly feel archaic and reductionist at times, this marianista framework is especially relevant for the novels discussed, since their plots begin in the early twentieth century and develop well into the 1980s – a period during which these conservative attitudes were deeply ingrained in most Latin American societies.

Much more is to be said about both concepts in theoretical terms, yet for the purpose of this argument it suffices to state that these two images of womanhood – though far from exhaustive – have been rather pervasive in the Latin American consciousness, especially at the time of publication of these novels. Though the examples derive mostly from a Mexican context, it is not farfetched to extend them to the rest of the continent, since the rape of indigenous women and the birth of a mestizo population is not unique to Mexico, and the ideal of chastity engendered by the marianista cult is widespread throughout most of these countries. Malinchismo encapsulates the idea of rape and the objectification of women (crucially, La Malinche was a gift given to Cortés), but also a sense of betrayal. Marianismo is characterised chiefly by the chastity of a virgin mother, yet at the core of it a sense of guilt, since this ideal is unfulfillable. In what follows, the analysis of Isabel Allende’s La Casa de los espíritus and Albalucía Angel’s Misiá señora will evaluate how women writing in a time of influential feminist ideas engage with these mythical attitudes.

Sexual violence and class oppression

When it comes to the Latin American context, rape plays a major role in many of the canonical Boom authors, even if this topic has attracted little critical attention. In chapter fifteen of Julio Cortázar’s Rayuela, La Maga tells Gregorovius how she was raped in Uruguay when she was thirteen years old. Mario Vargas Llosa’s La Fiesta del Chivo deals with another child-rape, that of Urania, in a context of political violence in the Dominican Republic. In García Márquez’s Cien años de soledad, there is an instance of rape within marriage when José Arcadio Buendía forces Úrsula to have sex with him. Perhaps the Boom novel where it plays the most salient role is Carlos Fuentes’s La Muerte de Artemio Cruz: Cruz himself is the son of the violation of Isabel Cruz, and rapes Regina who forgives him by creating a mythical illusion about an initial romantic encounter that absolves him of any guilt. While a thorough analysis exploring these examples is required, this essay will move on to focus on how two women who fall within the Post-Boom movement have approached this issue. If, as Donald Shaw argues, ‘the emergence of women writers is perhaps the most significant [aspect] of the Post-Boom,’[14] then it follows that exploring how the Post-Boom engaged with gender violence will prove fruitful. However, La Casa and Misiá señora may appear to be odd companions. In fact, if we accept Susana Reisz’s typology of Latin American female writers, these two occupy opposite ends of the spectrum:

los bestsellers con su encantadora simplicidad y su feminismo de progreso paulatino […], y al otro lado del espectro literario, la neo-vanguardia con su disrupción del significado, su rechazo de los discursos hegemónicos.[15]

[the bestsellers [are] characterised by their charming simplicity and progressive feminism […] and on the opposite side of the literary spectrum is the neo-vanguard with its disruption of meaning and rejection of hegemonic discourses.]

Deemed the best-selling novel ever written in Spanish by a woman, Reisz may have La Casa in mind for the first of these categories. On the other hand, Misiá señora’s sheer complexity in its often undecipherable polyphony of voices has made this a much less popular novel. Nonetheless, beyond the significant differences in style and accessibility, these two texts also have noteworthy similarities when it comes to representing the experience of being a woman in Latin America. Both novels centre around female protagonists and focus on a female line of descent, and deal with the issues of rape, (semi-)forced marriages, abortions, menstruation, religious coercion and the medicalisation of the female body. Furthermore, both authors have also lived in exile, and published their novels in the same year (1982), making an in-depth comparison necessary.

Both narratives begin with men appropriating the bodies of their female employees. At the start of Allende’s novel, a young Esteban Trueba decides to turn his fortune around by reviving his family’s estate, Las Tres Marías, from oblivion. Isolated in the countryside, Trueba becomes increasingly sexually frustrated and decides to rape one of the peasants in his farm, Pancha García. The rape is described in just one paragraph, in a straightforward and succinct manner. The narrator – who it will later become clear is Alba – describes the ferocity of the attack, albeit without going into huge detail: ‘La acometió con fiereza incrustándose en ella sin preámbulos, con una brutalidad inútil’[16] [‘He attacked her savagely, thrusting himself into her without preamble, with unnecessary brutality’].[17] Wearing a blood-stained dress, Pancha now cries, not only for herself but also for the perpetuation of historical injustices: ‘Antes que ella su madre, y antes que su madre su abuela, habían sufrido el mismo destino de perras’[18] [‘Before her, her mother – and before her, her grandmother – had suffered the same animal fate’].[19] Tellingly, the narrative voice never uses the word violación (rape) to describe this attack, and to an extent, this naturalisation reflects the commonality of such an attack occurring at the time. In fact, it soon becomes a rite of passage for female peasants working in Las Tres Marías: ‘No pasaba ninguna muchacha de la pubertad a la edad adulta sin que la hiciera probar el bosque, la orilla del río o la cama de fierro forjado’[20] [‘Not a girl passed from puberty to adulthood that he did not subject to the woods, the riverbank, or the wrought-iron bed’].[21]

Something similar occurs at the start of Misiá señora, when two young friends – Mariana and Yasmina – are talking, and the latter tells the protagonist that her brother is sleeping with the maid: ‘Glenises ya se acostó con Nerly, la sirvienta’[22] [Glenises has already slept with Nerly, the servant]. The word ‘ya’ (already) conveys a sense of inevitability in such an event taking place. Yasmina then tells Mariana that Nerly also sleeps with her father and describes the scene: ‘le palmotea las nalgas y Nerly aullando como un perro’ (p.30) [he slaps her bottom and Nerly howls like a dog]. Just like Pancha, Nerly is also dehumanised by being compared to a dog, yet Angel is much more visceral and aggressive in her descriptions of sexual violence than Allende: ‘pues él la había rajado con esa verga hinchada, metiéndola hasta adentro’ [he had cut her with that swollen cock, penetrating her deeply]. Allende’s polite ‘sexo’ (sex) becomes ‘verga’ (cock) in Angel’s diction, and the previous choice of verb, ‘incrustar’ (thrust), becomes even more poignant in Angel’s ‘rajado’ (cut). But just as in the Chilean novel, this attack is only an example of a much larger pattern: ‘Con las hermanas mayores fue lo mismo, pero ellas se emanciparon y se perdieron monte arriba, un día en Santa Cruz’ [The same happened to her older sisters, but one day in Santa Cruz they left for good].[23] Thus, the rape of servants also becomes naturalised, ritualistic and almost inevitable in this novel.

Like La Malinche, who was given to Hernán Cortés as one more present among other women and animals, Pancha and Nerly lose their autonomy and become objects to be used and discarded by powerful men. Not only are they violated, but they are also forced to work for their rapists: economic and sexual power go hand in hand. The machista ideology which pervades the context of both novels naturalises such despicable attacks, since there is no inclusion of the word violación (rape). They are both left to deal with the consequences on their own: Pancha has to raise Esteban’s bastard son and Nerly almost dies when she aborts (although she could have been pregnant by another man, Vitelio Trompa). These depictions suggest that the violations of women are not notable events because poor women do not own their bodies: their labour and virginities belong to the landowners. Nonetheless, both novels also suggest that upper-class women are not immune to sexual violence either. The next section will focus on Misiá señora to argue that this reality of sexual violence contrasts with the unrealistic expectations that the marianista cult imposes on Colombian women.

María, Mariana, Marianismo

Misiá señora’s complexity owes much to its refusal of chronological progress, the fusion of multiple voices which are not easy to disentangle, and its lack of barriers between external and internal dialogue. As Guerra-Cunningham argues, Angel is inaugurating a new form of writing:

[es] una de las pioneras de esta nueva escritura beligerante y subversiva que aspira a insertar en la ficción la mirada, la experiencia y la imaginación de la mujer latinoamericana ubicada en la periferia que le fue asignada por el patriarcado.[24]

[She is a pioneer in a new belligerent and subversive style which attempts to include the gaze, experience and imagination of the Latin American woman in the literary realm, from where it had been previously excluded.]

She further argues that Mariana suffers from an inner heteroglossia, where the ‘I’ is split between an identity imposed on her by patriarchal domination and her own attempts to escape this order and imagine a new identity.[25] Sánchez Gutiérrez also points to the multiplicity of discourses that fuse in Angel’s narrative style, which are extremely hard to disentangle completely.[26] Similarly, Navia Velasco contends that the confusion of names, memories and events captures the lack of autonomy and identity of the Colombian woman.[27] Claire Lindsay suggests that Angel’s ‘proclivity towards highly regional Colombian Spanish’[28] also hinders native Spanish speakers from fully understanding the diction. Thus, any study needs to be aware of the internal fragmentation, deconstructive style and deliberate obstructions that characterise the narrative.

While in Allende’s novel patriarchal ideology is presented through the character of Esteban Trueba in a way that is at times stereotypical, Angel portrays female oppression through snippets of everyday transgressions and does not shy away from describing its sheer violence. For example, this novel contains a violent father (‘se quita la correa’);[29] widespread prostitution (‘a va donde las putas’);[30] oppressive teachings from nuns (‘Jamás mirarse el cuerpo’);[31] everyday harassment from strangers (‘te la meto un ratico mamacita’);[32] forced relations within families (‘así es más rico, con incesto’);[33] homophobia (‘se está amariconando ya tiene cinco años’);[34] infidelity (‘si sigues con la moza me suicido’);[35] women perpetrating their own oppression through socialisation (‘no se te ocurra preguntarle a tu marido adonde va’);[36] and the masculine disdain towards a female line of descent (‘es muy linda, la niña, comentó Arlén, que había querido un niño’).[37] Thus, by embodying a myriad of female perspectives, Angel masterfully captures the ubiquity of the patriarchal order and how its natural extension, violence against women, pervades into every domain of experience.

The tension between the empirical reality of everyday life that actively encourages rape and the marianista ideal, which is spread through socialisation and religious education, is captured neatly in the second ‘imagen’ of the novel. While the first part dealt mostly with the (de)formation of young women in their childhood and youth years, the second part follows Mariana’s marriage to Arlén. Mariana’s agony during the wedding night and honeymoon is described viscerally:

y Arlén pujando, arremetiendo, tratando de horadarte, pero algo ocurría porque te entraba apenas.[38]

[and Arlen struggling, pushing, trying to perforate you, but something was wrong because he could barely fit inside of you.]

Ninguno te previno que era cercano a la agonía. Que aquella esperma acidulada se te entraría hasta el tuétano, como un grito filudo, taladrándote.[39]

[Nobody warned you it could be this close to agony; that his acidulated sperm would drill your insides with a sharp screech.]

The choice of verbs like ‘horadar’ (perforate) and ‘taladrar’ (drill), with their piercing connotations of pain, becomes pervasive when describing their sexual encounters. Mariana becomes an object to be used by her husband, and like La Malinche, she always carries blame: ‘Mariana… tú eres frígida’[40] [Mariana… you are frigid]. But like Mary, there is an expectation of chastity: ‘¿Por qué no sangras…? no me explico’[41] [Why don’t you bleed? I can’t understand]. The lack of blood becomes, paradoxically, a symbol for a failed sexual encounter. Mariana’s attitude towards sex means that after the honeymoon Arlén takes her to the doctor. Thus, a progressive process of medicalisation begins, which slowly withdraws Mariana from the real world, though she is well aware of the injustice.[42] There is an element of this same issue in Allende’s novel, when the young assistant doctor rapes the dead body of Rosa.[43]

Nonetheless, this bleak picture painted by Angel is simultaneously subverted, mainly through its deconstructive style. For example, she refuses to accept Snow White’s passivity in waiting for a male saviour when she is medicalised: ‘no estoy dormida, como las bellas de los cuentos, ni espero el príncipe encantado’[44] [I’m not asleep like the Sleeping Beauty, nor am I waiting for a charming prince]. It is through the character of Yasmina that an alternative to this ideal is suggested: tired of praying for the Virgin Mary to fulfil her wishes, Yasmina decides to sell her soul to the devil in the hope of gaining fifty pesos. This comical event has great symbolic power in positing a pagan alternative to the cult of the Virgin, and in one of the few refreshing instances of female empowerment, Yasmina fiercely claims:

Un día inventaron que yo no fui, la culpa la tuvo ella, la fémina perversa, la coquetejuela, Eva, frívola, inconsciente, tan linda, tan pendeja, tan rico que es violarla, comprarla en los burdeles […] y todavía hay sabios que sostienen que la libido es masculina.[45]

[One day they [men] invented that it wasn’t them, it was her: the evil femme fatale, the flirtatious one, Eve, frivolous, stupid, so pretty and young, so enjoyable to rape or buy in brothels […] and still some wise men claim that libido is only masculine.]

Yasmina traces the oppression of women back to the myth of ‘Genesis’, where Eve is defined by her sinfulness, and, like La Malinche, is the guilty one. From this initial imbalance of power, women have been defined by others: in none of these different roles do they own their bodies because, as reflected in the Virgin Mary ideal, women are not supposed to have a libido. From fairy tales to religious texts, Angel deconstructs the myths that lay at the foundation of our cultural imaginings. It is only when Mariana defies the coercive force of marriage by cheating on Arlén in Barranquilla that she is able to have an enjoyable sexual encounter, suggesting that she is not frigid when treated without brutality.[46]

Throughout the text are different fragments that can be interpreted meta-narratively, as though Angel were questioning the reader directly. For example, towards the end of the novel, the narrator says that she is ‘tratando de encontrar mi propia voz’[47] [trying to find her own voice]. There is one crucial response where Mariana finds her voice loud and clear:

¡Mariana…! ¿estas maluca? [Mariana…! Are you ill?]

Maluca no, violada [I’m not ill, I’m raped].[48]

The many Marianas of this novel are not ill, crazy, hysterical or frigid: put simply, they have been raped. The cyclical repetition of rapes among women of different generations is also one of the main themes in Allende’s novel.

Pancha and Alba: inter-generational rape cycles

Much has already been written about Allende’s treatment of gender relations in her novel. For example, Doris Meyer argues that rather than eliminating masculine discourse from her novel, Allende successfully manages to subjugate Esteban Trueba’s weak voice to Alba’s powerful speech.[49] García-Johnson claims that the feminist struggle for freedom is clearly mirrored in the novel’s use of space: the female characters systematically break down the patriarchal boundaries imposed by Trueba.[50] In a similar vein, Handelsman suggests that the matrilineal descent of the novel – Nivea, Clara, Blanca, Alba – represents different socio-historical contexts during the development of the modern woman.[51] This paper will limit its analysis to an exploration of the connection between the rape of Pancha García – discussed in the second section – and that of Alba. Used and discarded by Esteban, Pancha transmitted her deep resentment to her grandson, Esteban García, who is left alone with a young Alba later in his adult life. The scene quickly becomes sinister: ‘Esteban García tomó la mano de la criatura y la apoyó sobre su sexo endurecido’[52] [Esteban Garcia took her hand and placed it on his stiffened sex].[53] Years later, during the dictatorship, Alba becomes a prisoner due to her relationship with a revolutionary, Miguel. Though blindfolded, she instantly recognises the voice of – now Colonel – García, to whom she becomes a personal toy and is raped, beaten, humiliated and electrocuted. It becomes clear that, as Marcia Welles argues in her study of rape in seventeenth-century Spanish literature, women’s bodies become a battlefield over which men settle their disputes.[54] García’s hatred towards Trueba is acted out not by attacking him, however, but his granddaughter who, like La Malinche, is somehow blameworthy.

Though the comparison is often made between Allende’s first novel and Marquez’s iconic Cien años de soledad,[55] I would argue that La Casa bears significant similarities with Carlos Fuentes’s Death of Artemio Cruz. Like Esteban García, Cruz is the descendant of rape and is also a rapist himself. As in La Casa, Fuentes presents a cyclical view of history that perpetuates class and sexual violence. Nonetheless, in La Casa, this cyclical violence is counter-balanced with the progressive fusion of female and class oppression through the matrilineal descent. Alba, the new dawn of this new woman, is all too aware of this cyclical violence and needs to make a decision:

Después el nieto de la mujer violada repite el gesto con la nieta del violador y dentro de cuarenta años, tal vez, mi nieto tumbe entre las matas del rio a la suya y así, por los siglos venideros, en una historia inacabable de dolor, de sangre y de amor.[56]

[Afterward the grandson of the woman who was raped repeats the gesture with the granddaughter of the rapist, and perhaps forty years from now my grandson will knock García’s granddaughter down among the rushes, and so on down through the centuries in an unending tale of sorrow, blood, and love.][57]

In the novel’s controversial epilogue, Alba decides to forgive her rapist and raise her son of rape with love instead of resentment.[58] The suggestion is clear: this history of violence is also the history of men, and in order to escape Fuentes’s cyclical determinism, it is a woman who needs to put an end to it. Alba must let go of the past, just as Allende lets go of Márquez’s ‘magical realism’ halfway through the novel, to confront the new gruesome reality of Latin America.

The crucial converging point between these texts is that both protagonists are writers within the novels, which is highly significant since, as Pastor and Davies claim: ‘the woman writer had to challenge the image of the “monster” that she herself represented to the patriarchal other’.[59] At this point the boundary between reality and fiction becomes blurred. Like their protagonists, developing a personal voice was not easy for Allende or Angel in the context of a male-dominated literary environment. As Swanson recounts, there was great scepticism in academic circles towards Allende, whose works were often dismissed as ‘literatura light.[60] While critically acclaimed abroad, Angel faced harsh criticisms at home: ‘Angel herself was labelled “desvirolada” (mad) by the Colombian daily El Espectador after the success of her first prize-winning novel.’[61] Hence, Mariana and Alba, Albalucía and Isabel fight against the odds to forge their own discourses, which in turn become a crucial step in regaining the autonomy of their bodies.


The naturalisation of rape in La Casa and Misiá señora suggests that class and sexual violence are intertwined. Misiá señora masterfully captures the nature of a machista society which imposes a marianista ideal on women, while presenting a vigorous critique of it. La Casa uses the inter-generational repetition of rapes to highlight the historical violence against women, while pointing towards an exit from this pessimistic determinism when women take control of discourse, as Alba does. Both authors engage with the negative pervasiveness of the aforementioned myths in their novels, revealing their common denominator: that women do not own their bodies. While their protagonists cannot undo the repeated violations of their bodies, they develop a voice by the end of both novels. As Yarbro-Bejarano neatly puts it:

The deconstruction of the cultural signs of La Malinche and La Virgen opens the possibility for Chicanas to replace self-hatred with self-love and fear of betrayal with solidarity.[62]

Thus, the emergence of the female voice goes in hand in hand with the re-appropriation of the female body from the distorting influences of the malinchista and marianista cults. The authors use the simulative nature of literary fictions to extend the experience of gender violence to a broader audience, producing artistic pieces that also carry significant theoretical worth.


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——, ‘El marianismo: la otra cara del machismo en América Latina’, Diálogos: Artes, Letras, Ciencias Humanas, 10.1 (1974), 17-24.

Swanson, Philip, ‘Isabel Allende’ in A Companion to Latin American Women Writers, ed. by B.M. Pastor and L.H. Davies (Marltesham: Tamesis, 2012), pp. 159-163.

Welles, Marcia, Persephone’s Girdle: Narratives of Rape in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Literature (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2000).

Yarbo-Bejarano, Yvonne, ‘The Female Subject in Chicano Theatre: Sexuality, Race and Class’, Theatre Journal, 38.4 (1986), 389-407.


[1] Margo Glantz, ‘Las Hijas de La Malinche’, Debate Feminista, 12 (1992), 161-179 (p. 163).

[2] Unless otherwise stated all translations into English are my own.

[3] Jean Franco, ‘La Malinche: from gift to sexual contract,’ in Critical Passions: Selected Essays, ed. by M. L. Pratt and K. Newman (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), pp. 66-82 (p. 80).

[4] Octavio Paz, ‘The Sons of La Malinche,’ in The Mexico Reader, ed. by G. Joseph and T. Henderson (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 20-27 (p. 20)..

[5] Ibid., p. 21.

[6] Ibid., p. 25.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Milagros Palma, ‘Malinche, el Malinchismo o el lado femenino de la sociedad mestiza’, in Simbólica de la feminidad, ed. by M. Palma (Quito: Ediciones Abya-Yala, 1990), pp. 131-164 (p. 131). All further references to this work will be given in parentheses after the quotation in the body of the text.

[9] Sonia Montecino, ‘Identidades de género en América Latina: mestizajes, sacrificios y simultaneidades’, in Género e Identidad: Ensayos sobre lo femenino y lo masculino, ed. by Arango, Leon and Viveros (Bogotá: Ediciones Uniandes, 1995), pp. 187-200.

[10] Palma, ‘Malinche, el Malinchismo o el lado femenino de la sociedad mestiza,’ p. 131.

[11] Yvonne Yarbo-Bejarano, ‘The Female Subject in Chicano Theatre: Sexuality, Race and Class’, Theatre Journal 38.4 (1986), 389-407 (p. 392-3).

[12] Evelyn Stevens, ‘Marianismo: The Other Face of Machismo in Latin America,’ Female and Male in Latin America: Essays, ed. by Ann Pescatello (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973), pp. 90-101 (p. 95).

[13] Vanda Moraes-Gorecki, ‘Cultural Variations on Gender: Latin American Marianismo/Machismo in Australia,’ Mankind, 18.1 (1988), 26-36 (p. 26).

[14] Donald Shaw, The Post-Boom in Spanish-American Fiction (New York: State University of New York, 1998), p. 71.

[15] Susana Reisz, ‘Estéticas complacientes y formas de desobediencia en la producción femenina actual’ in Narrativa femenina en América Latina, ed. by Sandra Castro-Klaren (Madrid: Iberoamericana, 2003), pp. 331-349 (pp. 331-32).

[16] Isabel Allende, La Casa de los espíritus (Barcelona: Austral, 2016 [1982]) (p. 106).

[17] Isabel Allende, The House of Spirits, trans. by Magda Bogin (New York: Bantam Books, 1993 [1982]) (p. 57).

[18] Allende, La Casa, p. 106.

[19] Allende, The House, p. 57.

[20] Allende, La Casa, p. 112.

[21] Allende, The House, p. 63.

[22] Albalucía Angel, Misiá señora (Spain: Argos Vergara, 1982) (p. 9).

[23] Angel, Misiá señora, pp. 32-33.

[24] Lucia Guerra-Cunningham, ‘De Babel al Apocalipsis: Los espacios contestatarios de la Nación en la narrativa de Albalucía Angel’, Letras Femeninas, 15.1-2 (1999), 9-24 (p. 10).

[25] Guerra-Cunningham, ‘De Babel al Apocalipsis,’ p. 18.

[26] Adriana Sánchez Gutiérrez, ‘Erotismo y Cuerpo Femenino en Misiá señora de Albalucía Ángel’, Lingüística y Literatura, 61 (2012), 309-322 (p. 316).

[27] Carmiña Navia Velasco, ‘Misiá señora de Albalucía Ángel: La femenina identidad imposible’, Espéculo: Revista de Estudios Literarios <> [accessed 30 May 2017].

[28] Claire Lindsay, Locating Latin American Women Writers (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2003) (p. 85).

[29] Angel, Misiá señora, p. 23.

[30] Ibid., p. 31.

[31] Ibid., p. 39.

[32] Ibid., p. 43.

[33] Ibid., p. 51.

[34] Ibid., p. 61.

[35] Ibid., p. 66.

[36] Ibid., p. 127.

[37] Ibid., p. 152.

[38] Angel, Misiá señora, p. 137.

[39] Ibid., p. 127.

[40] Ibid., p. 137.

[41] Ibid., p. 138.

[42] Ibid., p. 157.

[43] Allende, La Casa, p. 88.

[44] Angel, Misiá señora, p. 303.

[45] Ibid., p. 107.

[46] Angel, Misiá señora, p. 199.

[47] Ibid., p. 207.

[48] Ibid., p. 157.

[49] Doris Meyer, ‘“Parenting the Text”: Female Creativity and Dialogic Relationships in Isabel Allende’s La casa de los espíritus’, Hispania, 73.2 (1990), 360-366 (p. 363).

[50] Ronie García-Johnson: ‘The Struggle for Space: Feminism and Freedom in “The House of Spirits”’, Revista Hispánica Moderna, 47.1 (1994), 184-193.

[51] Michael Handelsman, ‘La Casa de los espíritus y la evolución de la mujer moderna,’ Letras Femeninas, 14.1/2 (1988), 57-63 (p. 58).

[52] Allende, La Casa, p. 334.

[53] Allende, The House, p. 286.

[54] Marcia Welles, Persephone’s Girdle: Narratives of Rape in Seventeenth-Century Spanish Literature (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2000).

[55] For a comprehensive analysis of the similarities between both, see, for example: Caballero, M, ‘Introducción’ La casa de los espíritus (Barcelona: Austral, 2016 [1982]), pp. 9-49.

[56] Allende, La Casa, p. 479.

[57] Allende, The House, p. 431-32.

[58] The moral dilemma at the heart of forgiving an attack like this is explored in a later Chilean play by Ariel Dorfman, Death and the Maiden (1990).

[59] B.M. Pastor and L.H. Davies, A Companion to Latin American Women Writers (Martlesham: Tamesis, 2012), p. 2.

[60] Philip Swanson, ‘Isabel Allende’, in A Companion to Latin American Women Writers, ed. by B.M. Pastor and L.H. Davies (UK: Tamesis, 2012), pp. 159-163 (p. 160).

[61] Claire Lindsey, Locating, p. 88.

[62] Yarbro-Bejarano, ‘The Female Subject’, pp. 393-4.