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Exploring Gender, Class and Ethnicity in Nineteenth Century Latin America: Clorinda Matto de Turner's Torn from the Nest

Carlos Alberto Contreras
Grossmont College

 

    The nineteenth century was an enormously important period for Latin America.  After three hundred years of colonialism, Latin America's bloody independence wars in the 1820's severed its political links with Spain but also ushered in decades of instability and economic stagnation.  In the second half of the century as the Industrial Revolution gained speed, technological change and the shifting winds of international commerce fueled an agro-export boom which solidified Latin America's place in the world economy mainly as a producer of raw materials.  These "modernizing" impulses of globalization 2.0, to use Thomas Friedman's periodization, thoroughly transformed the Latin American landscape.1 In most Latin American countries, they also exacerbated class conflict, and by extension, ethnic conflicts between the elite who were largely of European descent and the vast majority of the population composed largely of native peoples, Africans, and peoples of mixed ethnicities. Predictably, these changes also led to vigorous debates among the Latin American elite as to how best to modernize and bring about progress especially in countries like Peru with its sizeable indigenous population that had been subjected to forced labor in one form or another since the conquest of the Americas (globalization 1.0).  Some argued that natives should be culturally integrated, i.e., "Westernized".  Others went so far as to argue that natives were a hopeless cause and advocated for their disappearance.  This paper looks at the multiple ways the classic 1889 novel Torn from the Nest by the path-breaking Peruvian woman author Clorinda Matto de Turner can be incorporated into the classroom as a primary source. It can be used to analyze the complexities of Latin America's modernization programs at the end of the nineteenth century, the ideologies of development that the elite latched onto, the roles of women in this shifting social landscape, and the roles of indigenous people who usually bore most of the costs of modernization.

    Torn from the Nest is one of Latin America's most important novels and is ground-breaking in many respects.  First of all, it was written by a woman at a time in which the world of letters was considered "unfeminine."  Clorinda Matto de Turner was the first Peruvian novelist to become "famous," some would say "infamous," as her work was so controversial that the Church formally expelled her, and Peru had her deported.  Matto de Turner became a journalist at a very young age, and she was one of the first Latin American women to do so. Her work reflects her journalistic observations on the everyday life of sectors of society who were not being written about elsewhere.  She became editor of El Peru Ilustrado, one of the most important newspapers in Peru at the time.  She started writing novels in order to describe Peru's realities and "problems" to the world.  She wrote in her preface "the task of the novel is to be the photograph that captures the vices and virtues of a people censuring the former with the appropriate moral lesson and paying its homage of admiration to the latter."2   Though novels of the time did not have the wide circulation that they would later, newspapers and novels were read aloud in public places for those who couldn't read for themselves.  Matto's work is pioneering as well because it comes at a time during which Latin American intellectuals were only beginning to address the history of their countries in the novel.  She was the first novelist to deal with indigenous people as ordinary folk and as agents of history not the faceless and downtrodden remnants of some quasi-mythical empire.  Thus, while Matto de Turner's novel unfolds as a love story between a white man and an indigenous woman, it brings to light the deep class disparities of Peruvian society; the continued exploitation of indigenous people, the circumscribed world which Peruvian women faced, and the debates that were taking place in Peru and the rest of Latin America about progress and modernization.

    Why is a novel that was written over 100 years ago relevant for our students in the twenty-first century?  The short answer is that the issues she grappled with in the novel are the very same issues that Latin America continues to grapple with now. Recently, we've witnessed two episodes in which the most recent wave of globalization, globalization 3.0 (since NAFTA and the internet), has intensified the historical inequalities that fall along ethnic lines producing social explosions in Mexico in 1994 and Bolivia in 2005 that completely altered the modern political landscape and launched a new round of debate about modernization.

    The Maya and Tzotzil speaking people of Chiapas rebelled against "neoliberalism" and "500 years of oppression" on the day that NAFTA took effect on January 1st,  1994, in the process throwing into question all of the assumptions about neoliberalism and globalization as the best way to bring about development and equality.  The Maya and Tzotzil women of the Zapatista uprising (as discussed in the paper by Devon Hansen and Laura Ryan in this issue) have also taken a lead role in the indigenous resistance to the modernization project that we're witnessing now.

    Must every process of modernization and national integration involve the elimination of regional differences? Of ethnic differences?  Can cultures, in this case indigenous cultures, remain "distinct" as the world globalizes?  Comandante Ester, one of the female leaders of the Zapatistas, answered critics in the Congress of Mexico in 2001 who argued that preserving municipal autonomy and indigenous customs would lead to either the Balkanization of Mexico or would doom native peoples to live on the margins of society forever.

    In the case of Mexico and much of Latin America, the poorest and most marginal continue to be the indigenous people so the winds of globalization buffet them the hardest.

    In Bolivia, those inequalities came to a head in 2003 when the Quechua and Aymara natives brought down the government of Gonzalo S÷nchez de Lozada.  Evo Morales, of the Movement towards Socialism, argued in his presidential campaign that heavily indigenous Bolivia needed to be "re-founded" to ameliorate Bolivia's vast inequalities that continue to fall along ethnic lines.  He became president in 2006, elected with much indigenous support on a nationalist platform that has the Western industrialized countries nervous because of his opposition to untrammeled globalization.

    The same questions being asked today rose during globalization 2.0 in the nineteenth century.  The publication of Torn from the Nest in 1889 came at a time when globalization 2.0 was in full swing.  Railroads, telegraphs, and steam ships were pouring into Latin America facilitating a raw materials export boom that brought about unprecedented economic growth and that also perpetuated inequalities that inevitably fell along ethnic lines.  Money was pouring into Peru from its sale of guano, silver, and alpaca wool among other raw materials.  At the same time, huge pockets of indigenous peoples in the Andean highlands continued to be as exploited as they had been during the colonial period. 

    In the novel, we see rich merchants "depositing" an "advance payment" of a sum of money at indigenous peoples' houses.  One year later, they'd come back for 500 lbs. of Alpaca wool at prices that always heavily favored the merchants.  If the native people didn't have the wool, they had to pay back the "advance payment" at usurious interest rates.  The system relied on power and the threat of violence.  In the story, those who benefit from this exploitation defend it so strongly that the governor, the justice of the peace, and the priest scheme to incite a riot that will kill the "outsider" Don Fernando Marín for wanting to defend the Yupanquis, the indigenous family that can neither raise that much wool or that much money.  The authorities had broken into Juan Yupanqui's house to "deposit" the advance payment and when he couldn't come up with the wool or the interest on the money, the authorities took his daughter hostage to make sure he paid.  So powerless are natives in the Andean highlands that another Indian, Isidro Champi, gets blamed for their scheme to murder the "outsider" don Fernando, a scheme that went awry and killed the Indian Juan Yupanqui instead.  The "authorities" then jail Isidro, demand four of his cows to release him, and when his wife pays, refuse to let him out.  When Fernando asks Martina, Isidro Champi's wife, who jailed her husband and took their cattle; she replies, "the law, sir," referring to the justice of the peace and the governor.3

    In the second half of the nineteenth century, as wool exports boomed in the Andean south, large amounts of money were being made by landowners, merchants, and British buyers.  But the peasants, especially the indigenous peasants, did not accumulate any significant amounts of capital.  They did not participate as buyers in the internal market.  Exports were generating revenue but not promoting national development.  Wealth did not trickle down.  The enganche system, as it was called in Peru, would persist as late as the 1920's.  Labor bosses would hand cash advances to men in need of money to pay community duties or sponsor religious festivities.  Once the peasants accepted this money, they were obliged to work to repay the loan (perhaps on a sugar plantation).  Powerful landowners and enganchadores, however found ways to make sure the peasants would never be able to repay the loans, dooming the workers to remain on the plantations for extended periods of time.  The more remote the location, the more the exploitation.4

    This system harks back also to a similar form of exploitation of natives during the colonial period called the repartimiento de mercancías (or simply reparto).  It was in essence a forced sale of goods to the indigenous people.  Corregidores (the Spanish colonial magistrates) became merchants who used their administrative powers (judicial and police) to compel the Indians under their jurisdiction to buy European goods at high fixed prices, thus extorting them.5    This practice perpetuated inequalities that would last for centuries to come especially in the most remote areas.

    Even though these blatant forms of exploitation were no longer legal by the end of the 19th century, the novel brings up the issue of "custom."  "Frankly ma'am, you have to realize that custom has the force of law, and that nobody's going to tamper with our customs, do you understand?" says Father Pascual to do└a Lucía as she asks the authorities to cancel the Yupanqui's advance payment debt.6   In terms of justifying this exploitative practice, the sub-prefect says "yes, nothing unusual about that; it's the custom, and by buying [the wool] right here, we benefit the Indians."7

    Another form of exploitation that the novel sheds light on is the mita, a system established by the Spanish conquerors in the 1530's as a way to find free labor for their estates and mines.  Called the encomienda in its earliest form, individual Spaniards received the right to extract labor and tribute from the Indians of a particular community.8   Encomienda service drew both men and women temporarily away from their home villages with men working in mining, construction and agriculture and women serving as cooks, maids, and wet nurses in encomenderos' households.  This form of exploitation would continue in one guise or another for centuries.  Indeed, as late as the 1920's, the government of Peru was conscripting Indians to work on Peru's road network, leading critics to call it the "republican mita.

    In the novel, the Yupanquis both have to perform such unpaid obligatory service to the authorities in Kíllac.  Juan Yupanqui performs his in the fields and Marcela Yupanqui in the rectory.  Indigenous women performing this unpaid obligatory service were called mitayas, and one of the terms applied to men was pongo.  At one point Father Pascual tells Marcela that her daughter Margarita is about the age to start performing her mita: "all right then, this year, you'll put her in the service of the church, won't you?  She's ready to start washing dishes and socks."

"Curay!" Marcela replied

"And how about you?  Still holding out on me?  When are you going to do your mita here?  Isn't it your turn?" the priest asked, fixing his eyes on Marcela and patting her on the back in a familiar way."9

    In addition to highlighting the exploitation of indigenous labor, this exchange also sheds light on the sexual exploitation to which indigenous women were subjected.  Marcela had complained to Lucia about serving at the rectory because "╣who knows what is in store for me, because the women who go in there to serve come out╣looking down at the ground!"10   Indeed we find out at the end that Marcela's own daughter, Margarita, was not the daughter of her husband Juan but of the previous village priest Don Pedro Miranda y Claro.

    The vices of the Church and the immorality of its priests is another of Peru's "problems" that Matto sets out to shed light on. This was a particularly important issue to her because of the power priests had come to have among native peoples in the highlands.  She writes:

The influence that priests have in these places is so great that their word almost becomes a divine command; and the Indians are so docile that although in the intimacy of their huts there may be veiled criticism of certain acts of the clergy, the superstition that the priests maintain is powerful enough to crush all discussion and make their voice the law of their parishioners.11  

    She portrays the village priests as abusive and part of the oppressive establishment along with the governor and other local government officials.  Father Pascual Vargas is portrayed as a drunkard and a womanizer who mercilessly exploits the Indians.  He has male and female Indians performing their mita as servants and has attached a claim on the crops of the Yupanqui family who owe him money for funeral fees.  In this story, Father Pascual was in on the plot to kill Fernando Marín, the "outsider" who Matto sees as bringing morality from "modern" Lima to the Andean highlands.  Having gathered the authorities for drinks to discuss Lucía's request to cancel Juan Yupanqui's debt, father Pascual says: "its that╣Se└ora Lucía has summoned us to hear a plea for some sly tricky Indians who don't want to pay their debts; and she's done it with words that once the Indians hear them╣ will in effect put an end to our customs, the advance payment, the mitas, the pongos, and all the rest of it."    Estafano Benítez, a low level official, then chimes in "and she's even suggested we bury the poor for nothing; and frankly, what's to become of the father here once he's left penniless that way?"12

    The author tries to show that the Catholic tradition of celibacy for its priests was unnatural and responsible for the immoral behavior of priests. In a moment of repentance for all of the bad things he's done, Father Pascual says, "╣ pity the man cast into the wasteland of the priesthood without the support of the family!"13   At his deathbed, she writes about "the torture of his spirit as he realized that he could have been a virtuous and useful man but for the folly of human laws that contradict the laws of nature."14  

    Contrasting the corrupt village priest with priests from the modern capital of Lima, she writes "no, that man's an insult to the Catholic priesthood.  In the city I've seen superior beings, their heads hoary with age, go silently and covertly to seek out the poor and the orphan in order to help and console them.  I've observed the Catholic priest at the bedside of the dying, standing pure before the sacrificial alter, weeping humbly in the home of the widow and the orphan.  I've seen him take his only loaf of bread from his table and hold it out to the poor, depriving himself of nourishment and praising God for his gift."   Though Matto was a devout Catholic who favored a more "pure" Christianity, the Church saw her work as irreverent and heretical, had her books burned in front of churches, and persecuted her until she fled to Argentina to exile.

    This statement contrasting life in remote villages, which the author sees as corrupt, with life in the modern capital city, seen as virtuous, is but one place where the issue of modernity comes up. The village of Kíllac is seen mainly in negative terms with an abusive gentry and many vices.  The fictitious Kíllac is in reality Tinta, near Cuzco, the Andean hamlet where the indigenous Tupac Amaru II rebellion of the late 18th century had started.  In part caused by the accumulated grievances of the exploited native majority, that rebellion shook the foundations of the colonial establishment as Indians rose up against corregidores, churches, and everyone else who was not Indian.  The uprising claimed 100,000 people around 10 percent of the viceroyalty's population.  Tupac Amaru II was captured in 1781 and dismembered by horses after being forced to watch the torture and death of his wife and children.  His dismembered body was then displayed in Cuzco and surrounding hamlets as a public warning to would-be rebels.

    In the novel, the oppressed Indian people of Kíllac endure their exploitation until the educated couple from Lima, the Maríns, come to unshackle them from their oppression.  To the author, Lima is "modern" and the model to emulate.  The Maríns are moral in contrast to the officials of the highlands.  They ultimately become the "defenders" and "protectors" of the Indians.  When Juan and Marcela Yupanqui are killed, the Maríns provide a "nest" for the indigenous couple's children, Margarita and Rosalia, when they are "torn from the nest." 

    The Maríns also play an influential role in having the indigenous Isidro Champi released from jail.  When they are on the verge of succeeding, do└a Lucía says, "Poor Indians!  Poor race of People!  If only we could free all of them as we're going to save Isidro!"15

    Though the novelist makes an important contribution in bringing to light the exploitation of native peoples, in the end she offers a romanticized and in some ways demeaning portrait of the indigenous world and of the indigenous women in that world.  Early in the novel, she had put a human face on the indigenous people in passages such as this: "a few maternal caresses and a handful of mote16 sufficed to calm that innocent victim of fate who, though born amid the rags of a hut, wept the same clear and bitter tears as do the children of kings."17   But one of her conclusions was that native peoples are hopeless without outsiders coming to rescue them.  It was a view that was typical of many progressive intellectuals in the capital cities of Latin America at the end of the 19th century.  Ironically, the Mexican government turned that argument on its head in 1995 when they "unmasked" Sub Commander Marcos, the Zapatista spokesperson, showing to the world the white face of Rafael Sebasti÷n Guillšn Vicente from the northern part of Mexico in an effort to delegitimize the Zapatista revolt and to strip it of its "authenticity".18   The message the Mexican government was sending was: the Zapatista uprising is not an Indian-led movement, but a bunch of "outsiders" who have "brainwashed" the native peoples into taking up arms. 

    The novel also provides us with the opportunity to dissect the ideologies of "Progress"  being debated and their consequences for the indigenous people.  Because most of the governments of Latin America were not very representative and access to education was quite limited, this debate took place mainly amongst the elite.  This was an especially vexing question for the Andean countries like Peru with its sizeable indigenous population that had been subjected to forced labor in one form or another since the conquest in the 1530's.  Conservatives of the late 19th century harked back to the colonial regime as an ideal--a world in which people of color "knew their place".  The landed gentry in Kíllac in this novel symbolize this group.  Others, namely Liberals, argued that in order for nations to become modern, natives should be educated, i.e. "Westernized" and should join the modernizing world.  Don Fernando and do└a Lucía in the novel symbolize this group.  We hear echoes of the "noble savage," with Indian people happy in their primitive state were it not for the depredations of their oppressors.  Commenting on native women's beauty, for example, Matto says "their way of life (was) charming in its simplicity╣"  But for all of their positive attributes, indigenous values turn out to be, in many ways, inferior to those of the "civilization" brought by the outsiders from Lima, the Maríns. 

    Echoing those espousing positivism at the end of the 19th century, Matto argues that only through education will Indian people occupy a superior level and achieve genuine modernity.  She saw education as a cultural vehicle of modernization with her novel providing moral lessons.   Even the immorality of the landed gentry is due partly to their lack of education, says Matto.  All of the positive characters in the story possess an excellent education.  Manuel, for example, left Kíllac as a boy, was educated in Lima, and came back  virtuous, and willing to go mano a mano with the corrupt landed gentry whose lack of a proper education is emphasized.

    Addressing the issue of women and education, the novel highlights the fact that for poor women in Latin America education was non-existent; and for rich women, its purpose was to help them become better wives and mothers.  Don Fernando tells Lucía "they're our adopted daughters.  They'll go to Lima with us; and there, just as we've planned, we'll place them in the school that will best prepare them to be wives and mothers."19

    Such sentiments were typical of societies in which patriarchal structures generally excluded women from economic and political life. The author has the "educated" Lucía recalling the words her mother had quoted to her from a Spanish author she admired: "Poor women, forget your dreams of emancipation and liberty.  Those are but theories of diseased minds that can never be put into practice, because woman is born to poeticize the home."  Matto goes on to say: "Lucía's calling was to teach through motherhood, and Margarita was the first pupil to whom she would transmit the domestic virtues."20   In a revealing exchange between the governor and his wife, Don Sebasti÷n says: "Frankly, women should stay out of men's business and stick to their sewing, their knitting, and their kitchens, do you understand?" "Yes, that's what they all say, to still the voice of sense and conscience and send our sound warnings to the devil," replies Do└a Petronila. 21

    The story then picks up one of the ideals being articulated at the time about the role of women, namely, that women are the voices of conscience.  In the novel, men, particularly men of the small villages, are corrupt, while their wives are not.  They take no part in their husbands' depredations.  On the contrary, motivated by their "natural goodness", they try to restrain the men's corruption.  The function of women then is to "poeticize the home" and provide a moral compass to families.

    Continuing the thread of women and education, Margarita, the indigenous daughter of Juan and Marcela Yupanqui becomes a complex character only after her education at the hands of the educated outsiders, the Maríns.   Ironically, with education, both Manuel and Margarita become "outsiders" themselves, no longer "of" Kíllac and the village traditions it represents but now of an urban and industrializing "modern" Peru.  Which leads to the classic question that is still asked in the twenty-first century: can one ever "go home" again?  The noted historian Susan Kellogg has pointed out, as indigenous women of the modern era become more educated, education itself may undermine certain traditional values.  Women shift their roles as transmitters of traditional languages to become promoters of the national language.  Language change in communities proceeds quickly in the direction of Spanish.22

    In sum, Matto's work was a foundational effort to bring to light what she called "the wretched conditions" of native peoples in the Andes highlands.  Her journalistic observations helped illuminate, among other issues, the continued exploitation of native peoples, the circumscribed roles of women, and the perennial debates about modernization that largely excluded native peoples but always deeply impacted them.  All of these issues continue to have great relevance today. In Peru, for example, oppressive gender and racial ideologies have become so entrenched that native women in the late 20th century felt compelled to have plastic surgery to "de-indianize" their features so they can move ahead in society. The novel can also be used as a springboard to discuss the ways that indigenous women, to take but one example, have played an important role in the indigenous resistance to national "modernizing" projects in the 20th and 21st centuries that have resulted in the weakening of the region's indigenous identities.

Biographical Note: Carlos Alberto Contreras is Associate Professor of History at Grossmont College, where he teaches Latin American History.  He is completing his Ph.D. in History at UCLA.  His dissertation is entitled "From Nationalism to Internationalism: the Reshaping of Mexican Foreign Policy Since 1982".  He is also writing a book for Greenwood Press entitled "Daily Life in Latin America, 1800-1900". 

Sources cited/ for further reading:

Films:

Blood of the Condor (Yawar Mallku in the indigenous Quechua language) directed by Jorge Sanjines, Ukamau Group, 1969.  A dramatization of Bolivia's isolated indigenous population as the process of modernization and urbanization unfold in the 20th century.

The Sixth Sun, directed by Saul Landau, a Big Noise Productions film, 1995.

Books and articles:

English Martin, Cheryl. "Indigenous Peoples." In The Countryside in Colonial Latin America, edited by Louisa Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow. Albuquerque: University  of New Mexico Press, 1996.

Hunefeldt, Christine. A Brief History of Peru. New York: Checkmark Books, 2004.

Kellogg, Susan. Weaving the Past: A History of Latin America's Indigenous Women from the Prehispanic Period to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Kicza, John E., ed. The Indian in Latin American History: Resistance, Resilience,and Acculturation. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1993.

Klaršn, Peter Flindell. Peru: Society and Nationhood in the Andes. New York: Oxford

University Press, 2000.

Koop, David, "Plastic Surgery for Peru's Poor," San Diego Union Tribune, 14 February 1998.

Matto de Turner, Clorinda. Torn from the Nest. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Palma, Ricardo. Peruvian Traditions. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Appendix 1

Indigenous People in Latin America, Select Countries, 2001

Country                                 Number                                  % of the population

Mexico                                    10 million                                10%

Peru                                         8.5 million                               40%

Guatemala                               5.8 million                               60%

Ecuador                                   5.2 million                               43%

Bolivia                                     4.1 million                               58%

In 2001, about 35 million Indigenous people in Latin America. 

Appendix 2

Study Guide/ Discussion Prompt for Clorinda Matto de Turner's Torn from the Nest

     Torn from the Nest is one of Latin America's most important novels and is ground-breaking in many respects.  First of all, it was written by a woman at a time in which the world of letters was considered "unfeminine."  Clorinda Matto de Turner was the first Peruvian novelist to become "famous" (some would say "infamous," her work was so controversial that the Church formally expelled her and Peru had her deported).  She was also the first to deal with indigenous people as ordinary folk and as agents of history and not the faceless and downtrodden remnants of some quasi-mythical empire.   Matto de Turner had become a journalist at a very young age, and her work reflects her journalistic observations of the everyday life in sectors of society that were not being written about elsewhere.  It is pioneering as well because it comes at a time in which Latin American intellectuals were only beginning to address the history of their countries in the novel.  Though novels of the time did not have the wide circulation that they would later, newspapers and novels were read aloud in public places for those who couldn't read for themselves.  While Matto de Turner's novel unfolds as a love story between a white man and an indigenous woman, it brings to light the deep class disparities of Peruvian society, the continued exploitation of indigenous people, and the circumscribed world which Peruvian women faced even as Peru and the rest of Latin America modernized.

Characters/locations:

Don Fernando and Do└a Lucía Marín- the "outsiders" from Lima, Peru

Juan and Marcela Yupanqui- parents of Marcela and Rosalía

Margarita- the mestiza daughter of Marcela (Rosalía is her little sister)

Don Sebastian- governor of the province of Killac.  He is Do└a Petronila's husband and Manuel's stepfather

Father Pascual Vargas- village priest who succeeded father Don Pedro Miranda y Claro

Isidro Champi- the sexton.  Martina is Isidro Champi's wife

Estefano Benites and Pedro Escobedo- low level officials

Kíllac- the Andean hamlet (the fictitious name for Tinta) where the novel is set.  It is located in the Andean south (near Cuzco) and lives by trade in Alpaca wool and silver mining in the surrounding area.  The author uses this location as a symbol of life in small towns in the Peruvian mountains.

Terms:

Pongo: Indian male performing unpaid obligatory service to the authorities.  A 19th century remnant of the mita that was established at the conquest in the 1530's.

Mitaya: Indian women performing unpaid obligatory service to the authorities.

Mita: unpaid service to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities required of the Andean Indians.

governor: Administrative head of a town appointed by the central government;  in addition, a mayor is chosen by local citizens.

Answer each of the questions carefully.  Be sure to relate your responses to our course material.

1)  At the start of the novel, Matto de Turner describes the "advance payment system", which the "gentry" have been using for centuries to exploit native peoples in the highlands.  Describe it and tell me about its origins.

2)  Both Juan Yupanqui and his wife Marcela still perform unpaid obligatory service (that Indians have to perform) called the mita.  Describe it and tell me about its origins.

3)  The author describes Father Pascual in this way: "He was approaching the age of fifty; and his manner provided strong justification for the fears that Marcela had expressed when she had spoken of having to serve in the rectory, which as the Indians say, women leave "looking down at the ground"." (14)  What does this passage tell us about gender relations?

4)    In defending the advance payment system and the mita Father Pascual tells do└a Lucía:  "Frankly ma'am, you have to realize that custom has the force of law, and nobody's going to tamper with our customs, do you understand?"  (p. 16) Tell me about this custom he's referring to.  What does it tell us about the status of Indian people in the highlands of the Andes?

5)    What does the following exchange between the governor, Don Sebastian, and Father Pascual tell us about customs, exploitation, and "progress from the outside"?

"Frankly, dear Father, that's all we needed, having outsiders come here to set rules for us and, frankly, change customs handed down from our ancestors"

Father Pascual replies: "That's right, you get these Indians all worked up, and pretty soon, there'll be nobody to so much as draw the water for washing our dishes!" (p. 22)

6)    Comment on the following exchange and tell me what it says about gender relations:

"Frankly, women should stay out of men's business and stick to their sewing, their knitting, and their kitchens, do you understand?" says Don Sebasti÷n

"Yes, that's what they all say, to still the voice of sense and conscience and send our sound warnings to the devil." Replies Do└a Petronila (p. 31)

7)    Comment on the following passage of the novel, what it tells us about gender relations and how the author views life in the capital Lima vs. life in the Andean hamlet of Kíllac.

"The right kind of upbringing would have made of Do└a Petronila an ornament to society, for she was a precious jewel lost among the rocks of Kíllac.

If a woman is in general a diamond in the rough, to be polished by man and a proper upbringing, it is mainly left to nature to develop her noblest sentiments once she becomes a mother, as was Do└a Petronila╣" (32)

8)  At one point Father Pascual tells Marcela Yupanqui that her daughter Margarita is about the age to start performing her mita: " all right then, this year, you'll put her in the service of the church, won't you?  She's ready to start washing dishes and socks."

"Curay!" Marcela replied

"And how about you?  Still holding out on me?  When are you going to do your mita here?  Isn't it your turn?" the priest asked, fixing his eyes on Marcela and patting her on the back in a familiar way." (33)

 Comment.

9)    The Maríns, an educated couple from Lima, come to Kíllac and ultimately become the defenders of the oppressed Indian people in this novel.  Lucía says, for example, "Poor Indians!  Poor race of People!  If only we could free all of them as we're going to save Isidro!" (139)

Comment on the role of these "outsiders" and how this reflects the worldview of the elite from the capital (Lima) at the end of the 19th century.

10)  Chapters 11, 14 and 15 (p. 108ff) deal with the issue of powerful men forcing themselves onto women in remote villages ("fallen woman").  Briefly describe the episode and comment on its significance for gender relations and concepts of "honor" at the end of the 19th century.

11)  On the subject of women and education, Lucía, recalled the words her mother had quoted her (of a Spanish author she admired): "Poor women, forget your dreams of emancipation and liberty.  Those are but theories of diseased minds that can never be put into practice, because woman is born to poeticize the home." (136)  Matto de Turner then goes on to say that "Lucía's calling was to teach through motherhood, and Margarita was the first pupil to whom she would transmit the domestic virtues." (136)

 Comment.

12)  On the subject of Progress (with a capital P), Globalization 2.0 and Modernization, comment on the following quote: "The puffing of the locomotive is suddenly heard, and the whistle that announces progress, brought by the rails to the place where Manco Capac stopped to found the empire of the Incas." (151)

13) Lucía talks about how surprised she is at the number of children in foundling homes (homes where upper class women have left their "illegitimate children") in Arequipa (the second largest city of Peru at that time).  Contrasting the social conventions of the upper classes with those of the poor as they relate to honor and gender, she says "I know that a woman of the people does not cast her flesh and blood like that.  I know she has no need to cast them away, because those social conventions that wear the mask of the feigned virtue mean nothing to a mother of that class and to her child, the fruit of chance, or perhaps of crime." (167)

 Discuss.

14) In the end, almost by way of a conclusion, after Manuel has gotten the Indian Isidro Champi out of jail, don Fernando asks: "And so you've freed Isidro Champi.  Ah, but who will free that whole hapless race?"

"That's a question for every man in Peru, my dear friend!" replies Manuel (p. 70)  Discuss.

15)   On page 61, Manuel notices the fine pre-Columbian (Inca) art that Don Sebasti÷n owns.  This is the same Don Sebasti÷n that defends the continued exploitation of the living Indians.  Sub-Commander Marcos, the spokesperson for Mexico's Zapatistas has pointed out this inconsistency of nations glorifying their Indigenous past and denigrating their Indigenous present.

Comment.

16)  Tell me about any other important issues that the novel sheds light on that I did not ask you about.

 

 
Endotes

1 Thomas L. Friedman, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005).  Friedman's globalization 1.0 begins with Columbus in 1492.  Globalization 2.0 stretches from 1800 to about 2000, with globalization 3.0 beginning in the year 2000.  For Latin America, I would adjust the start date of globalization 3.0 to at least 1994, the year the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) took effect.

2 Clorinda Matto de Turner, Torn from the Nest (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), 3.

3 Matto de Turner, 130.

4 Christine Hunefeldt, A Brief History of Peru (New York: Checkmark Books, 2004): 164, 177.

5 Peter Flindell Klaren, Peru: Society and Nationhood in the Andes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000): 63-64

6 Matto de Turner, 16.

7 Matto de Turner, 91.

8 The encomienda, which in Peru would be called the mita as well, was grafted onto the pre-conquest traditions in which native peoples provided labor for public works, public projects, and the army.  Some women were also chosen to serve; caring for shrines, participating in rituals, and weaving the fine textiles that circulated throughout the Inka Empire to be used for gifts or in ceremonies.  Susan Kellogg, Weaving the Past: A History of Latin America's Indigenous Women from the Prehispanic Period to the Present (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 50.

9 Matto de Turner, 33.

10 Matto de Turner, 11.

11 Matto de Turner, 38.

12 Matto de Turner, 25.

13 Matto de Turner, 71.

14 Matto de Turner, 103.

15 Matto de Turner, 139

16 A beverage of boiled corn.

17 Matto de Turner, 18.

18 See The Sixth Sun, directed by Saul Landau, a Big Noise Productions film, 1995.

19 Matto de Turner, 98.

20 Matto de Turner, 136.

21 Matto de Turner, 31..

22 Kellogg, 124.

 

 

 

 
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