Event Title

The Treatment of Mexicans in Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark: A Postcolonial Analysis

Presenter Information

Sefferino Ramos

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

College

College of Art & Letters

Major

English

Location

RM 215-218

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Margaret Doane

Start Date

5-27-2014 1:00 PM

End Date

5-27-2014 5:30 PM

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to analyze how Mexicans are portrayed and treated in Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark. Postcolonial literary theory is used to interpret how the characters are being portrayed. The analysis shows that Cather portrays very complex Mexican characters, which is unusual for the time. She ultimately still portrays them as separate from the whites, one of the tenets of a colonial mindset. She was representing how she understood the relationship between whites and Mexicans at the time. She does both a positive reading and a stereotypical portrayal of the Mexican characters. She was ahead of her time in this respect, as well as of her time by the stereotypical portrayal. Cather is able to humanize the Mexican characters by having them speak for themselves. The references to them being treated negatively are evident in the narration of the novel. The characters are all aware of being treated unfairly, yet they cannot do anything about it. While some characters are portrayed as very complex, having good and bad qualities, others are shown as being very simple. What I found is that Cather is able to write the Mexican characters in similar ways to her protagonist in other novels, while keeping in the discrimination they have to deal with. Using a Postcolonial literary analysis complicates the positive reading of the Mexican characters in the novel.

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May 27th, 1:00 PM May 27th, 5:30 PM

The Treatment of Mexicans in Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark: A Postcolonial Analysis

RM 215-218

The purpose of this research is to analyze how Mexicans are portrayed and treated in Willa Cather’s Song of the Lark. Postcolonial literary theory is used to interpret how the characters are being portrayed. The analysis shows that Cather portrays very complex Mexican characters, which is unusual for the time. She ultimately still portrays them as separate from the whites, one of the tenets of a colonial mindset. She was representing how she understood the relationship between whites and Mexicans at the time. She does both a positive reading and a stereotypical portrayal of the Mexican characters. She was ahead of her time in this respect, as well as of her time by the stereotypical portrayal. Cather is able to humanize the Mexican characters by having them speak for themselves. The references to them being treated negatively are evident in the narration of the novel. The characters are all aware of being treated unfairly, yet they cannot do anything about it. While some characters are portrayed as very complex, having good and bad qualities, others are shown as being very simple. What I found is that Cather is able to write the Mexican characters in similar ways to her protagonist in other novels, while keeping in the discrimination they have to deal with. Using a Postcolonial literary analysis complicates the positive reading of the Mexican characters in the novel.