Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pasó Por Sus Labios Characters

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Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pas Por Sus Labios Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Loving in the War Years: Lo Que Nunca Pas Por Sus Labios by Cherríe Moraga.

Cherrie Moragaappears in throughout

Cherrie Moraga is the author of all the poems and essays contained in this collection. She is a half-white, half-Mexican lesbian living in America. Familiarity with her biography is vital to understanding the book because, as she argues at several points, one cannot approach issues of sexism and racism from a purely theoretical perspective; one can only understand them if one has experienced oppression oneself.

Moraga was born into a very devout, Catholic family and her relationship with the Church was a complicated and generally painful part of her youth. She realized at a very young age that she was a lesbian and felt like she was inevitably damned, as the Church has an inflexible stance on the sinfulness of homosexuality. Leaving the Church in her early adulthood was a painful but necessary step in her personal development, but it is obvious that her former Catholicism still plays an important role in shaping who she is. This is in part true because Catholicism is such a huge component of Chicano identity in general, but also because Catholicism gave her her first ideas of God.

Moraga is the mother of two children. One of them is her biological son, conceived through artificial insemination. The other child is adopted. Her role as mother is, unsurprisingly, a very significant part of her life. She admits that it has changed her perspectives on many issues, particularly the understanding of the story of the "La Mujer Llorana", a story about a woman who killed her children when she discovered her husband was cheating on her. At first, Moraga was tempted to view this story in a somewhat favorable light. She is no supporter of child-murder, but she saw the woman's killing of her children as a symbolic escape from the social pressure which forces women to be mothers. When she became a mother herself, Moraga found it more difficult to interpret the story in such a positive way.

Malincheappears in A Long Line of Vendidas

Malinche was an Aztec princess who, according to legend, slept with Cortez, a Spanish conquistador, and eventually helped usher in the European domination of the Americas. For Mexicans and Chicanos, Malinche is a kind of Eve-figure, a woman who betrayed her people and brought about some great evil.

As Moraga interpets the story, Malinche's great "crime" is her free sexuality. She disobeyed the laws set down by men regarding how and with whom she could express her sexual desires. Malinche, then, is the archetypal "whore", the worst thing a woman can be in Chicano culture. In Moraga's view, then, Malinche is a kind of hero. Moraga is certainly not an apologist for the European conquest of America—indeed, quite the opposite—but she does see a certain rebellious freedom in Malinche's decision to disobey the sexual norms of her culture. Moraga, an open and active lesbian, must see herself in much the same way.

While Moraga's focus is certainly on Chicano culture, she thinks the figure of Malinche is relevant for almost every culture. Most societies are weighed down by all kinds of laws which dictate how a woman is supposed to behave sexually. Some cultures, like Chicano culture, are more severe than others, but the same idea is found almost everywhere. Even the institutions of marriage and heterosexuality are fundamentally concerned with this question. Marriage prevents a woman from having sex with a person to whom she is not married and heterosexuality dictates that women can only have sex with men.

Elviraappears in throughout

Elvira is Moraga's mother. She had a great influence on her throughout her life but especially in regards to her sexuality. As Moraga writes in several places, her love for women is in large part a search for the same kind of intimacy she had with her mother.

Gloria Anzalduaappears in throughout

Gloria Anzaldua is a fellow Chicana lesbian activist. Moraga cites her work on several occasions and generally agrees with her ideas.

Octavio Pazappears in A Long Line of Vendidas

Octavio Paz is a Mexican writer from whom Moraga borrows the sexual distinction between the chingon and chingada, or, roughly, the ripper and the ripped.

La Lloranaappears in Looking for the Insatiable Woman

La Llorana is a woman who, according to legend, was sentenced to roam the earth looking for the children she killed when she discovered her husband had sexually betrayed her.

Coyolxauhquiappears in Looking for the Insatiable Woman

Coyolxauhqui was an Aztec goddess who learns that her mother, though quite old, has become pregnant and tries to kill her, though unsuccessfully. As Coyoloxauhqui's mother eventually gave birth to the war god, feminists have understood Coyolxauhqui as trying to undermine and prevent patriarchy from ever arising.

August Wilsonappears in Sour Grapes: The Art of Anger in America

August Wilson is an African American writer with whom Moraga is able to identify regarding racial oppression and marginalization.

Aristotleappears in Sour Grapes: The Art of Anger in America

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher whose work Poetics created the foundation for nearly all Western drama that came afterward. Moraga argues that works which deviate from his paradigm, like those which represent something other than white, European culture, are going to be automatically panned by critics.

Marsha Gomezappears in The Dying Road to a Nation, A Prayer Para Un Pueblo

Marsha Gomez was a Chicana woman who was murdered by her son. Moraga interprets her death as a kind of voluntary sacrifice in atonement for the sins of Chicano culture.

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