Maternal Inheritance: Love and Self-Identity in Mexican American Literature
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The roles assigned to a woman within a particular culture are defined by the cultural forces that have been set in place as tradition and that have been set as paradigms of what a woman should be and can be identified as. Because being a woman makes one capable of becoming a mother, the roles that are passed down from mother to daughter become extremely important. Therefore, maternal love and romantic love have much to do with what has been culturally mandated as the norm. Rejection, refusal, and expulsion of all that is acceptable within a particular cultural discourse can greatly impact the identity of the women that have dared aspire to an existence outside of these paradigms. The giving or withholding of a specific type of love, along with the implications of said love within a specific norm, is therefore contingent on the space a woman chooses to inhabit. Through literary works including Ana Castillo’s So Far From God and Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, this project explores the cultural discourses and set narratives that have shaped the roles and expectations of women in Mexican American culture. Specifically, the way in which the space a woman chooses to inhabit, outside or within the margins of an already marginalized group, affects her capability and likelihood to receive or be denied a specific type of love, be it maternal, romantic, and/or most importantly, self-love or love of one’s own or prescribed identity.