The poem “Don’t Give In Chicanita” by Gloria Anzaldúa is very compelling and happens to be my favorite one of the selected poems that we read for FL 221 U.S.-Mexico Border Literature class this fall with Dr. Rathbun.
To begin with, Anzaldúa’s perspective for this poem was very encouraging and most likely so because it is the final piece in her text Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Although her poetic voice is directed towards her niece, “mi prietita”, it is a message for all people and particularly all young girls of her culture.
In the first stanza she combines symbolism with imagery when describing the mesquite tree, “The mesquite, firmly planted, digging underground,/toward that current, the soul of tierra madre - / your origin.” These verses represent her culture’s origin.
The poem describes the difficult struggles of the Mexican American people and culture and narrates conflicts with the “Gringos”. Even so, Anzaldúa’s poetic voice remains strong and gives a message of hope, “But they will never take that pride of being Mexicana – chicana – tejana – nor our Indian woman’s spirit”.
In addition, there is also important snake imagery used in the fifth stanza describing the new race, “skin tone between black and bronze second eye lid under the first”, and “Like serpent lightning we’ll move”.
Anzaldúa choses to code switch between Spanish and English and even though this poem is a translation, she has kept certain words and phrases in Spanish such as “tierra madre”. If she were to use English she would lose the connections to her culture.
I also feel that the role of the mother figure is essential and is an essential symbol in this poem. This is noted when she speaks of the mother earth, tierra madre, and addresses the reader as “m’ijita”, my daughter. This encouraging motherly voice strengthens the future of her culture’s children.
AU Senior –
Integrated Social Studies major and Psychology minor