UC Berkeley Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal

A Premier Humanities Research Journal at the University of California, Berkeley

A Tragic and a Moving Beauty

A Tragic and a Moving Beauty
Despina Bonadies

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Several contemporary Chicana feminists have resurrected indigenous mythological traditions to contextualize and re-frame current gender identities and relationships by claiming an organic connection to aboriginal spirituality. However, this trend has exacerbated criticism from various Chicana literary critics who claim that this inclination is at best questionable, and at worse counter-productive. In her novel, Sapogonia, author Ana Castillo draws upon the stories and image of Coatlicue, an Aztec goddess, to haunt the souls of her two protagonist lovers, Maximo Madrigal and Pastora Vealasquez Ake. By analyzing the original mythology that Castillo employs, addressing the potential pitfalls voiced by Chicana critics, and by examining Castillo’s specific employment of Coatlicue throughout the novel, this essay provides a standard by which to determine that Castillo effectively and appropriately represents the nature of the goddess and Aztec mythological tradition in Sapogonia.

In Sapogonia, utilizing a multitude of narrative voices and crisscrossing through time and place in an unstable world of confusing realities and lucid dreams, novelist Ana Castillo weaves a complex tapestry of history, culture, politics, and personalities. The novel’s consistent thread is the enigmatic relationship of her two principle characters, Máximo Madrigal and Pastora Velásquz Aké. Castillo draws upon mythological Aztec deities to haunt the souls and to give meaning to the destinies of her two protagonists, using the mysterious pre-Columbian imagery to explore a netherworld of primal forces in a male/female cycle of attraction and repulsion, love and hatred, and creation and death. Castillo is only one of several contemporary Chicana artists who have resurrected Ancient indigeneity to contextualize and re-frame current gender identities and relationships, claiming an organic connection to aboriginal spiritual traditions. But this trend has raised the hackles of several adversarial Chicana literary critics, who claim that this inclination is at best questionable, and at worst counter-productive. Thus, Castillo’s treatment of Aztec mythology – and specifically the goddess Coatlicue – as a backdrop to the characters and sensibilities of Sapogonia invites a closer examination. In order to most effectively accomplish this task, however, first one must examine the myths Castillo employs, and review how such myths have been applied and interpreted within the Chicana community by other feminist writers. Finally, these inquiries – the historical context of the myths and the corresponding pitfalls of utilizing these myths in contemporary Chicana representations – will provide a standard by which to prove that Castillo effectively and appropriately represents the profound nature of the ancient Aztec deities and legends presented in Sapogonia. As with all tales born out of a fluid oral tradition, mythological legends mutate with time and region, and there are a variety of stories surrounding Coatlicue, the ancient Aztec “Mother Goddess” who is the primary representation of Castillo’s Aztec references. A generally acknowledged narrative of Coatlicue is related in Pre-Columbian scholar Miguel Léon-Portilla’s Native Mesoamerican Spirituality, an anthology that includes a collection of Sacred Nahuatl and Mayan Hymns from pre- and post-Columbian sources. One teocuitatl (hymn) relates that Coatlicue had given birth to the stars, which consisted of “four hundred gods of the south / and their sister / by name Coyolxauhqui” (220).  Later, while domestically sweeping on “Coatepec, the Mountain of the Serpent” (220) Coatlicue found a ball of feathers and put them “in her bosom” (220). The feathers impregnated her, and her four hundred sons/stars and her daughter, Coyolxauhqui, became angered by her pregnancy, believing their mother had dishonored them. The sister led her siblings in a plan to kill Coatlicue, “the wicked woman who is now with child” (221), but the child growing inside of Coatlicue was none other than the destined Aztec Sun God, Huizilopochtli. He comforted his mother, telling her to “not be afraid” (220). When Coatlicue’s children came to attack her, Huitzilopochtli emerged from his mother, “his shield full of eagle feathers” and “on his left foot, which was withered, / he wore a sandal covered with feathers” (223). He decapitated Coyolxauhqui, chased after the four hundred stars, and “drove them away,” destroying all but a few who escaped to the south. The song continues to describe Huitzilopochtli’s appropriation of his rivals’ “gear, / their ornaments,” at which point “he put them on” and, finally, “he made them his own insignia” (225). The Aztecs believed that the severed head of Coyolxauhqui was thrown into the sky to become the moon, and that the Sun God was meant to be venerated as a supreme deity, the venerated god of cult worship (Miller and Taube 93). In one of several interpretations of the myth, Irene Nicholson points out the story’s most obvious function – its explanation of the daily movement of the sun, stars and moon. Just as the Aztec Sun God “chases away” his sister the moon and his brothers the stars, each day the sun rises to chase away and destroy the moon and stars in the sky (87). Léon-Portilla points out the myth’s social and political ramifications among the Aztecs: Huitzilopochtli becomes the prototype for the Aztec kingdom, and just as “Huitzilopochtli defeated and killed his brothers, he took possession of their insignia and attributes…For the Aztecs this was an anticipation of their own future. They too had to take possession of the riches of others…” (225). But these elaborations concentrate upon Coatlicue’s children – what of the Coatlicue, the goddess resurrected in Sapogonia? The essence of the “Mother of Gods” is ultimately revealed to post-Columbian society, and subsequently tied to controversial interpretations, not from this hymn, but from the discovery of an ancient statue. On August 13, 1790 a stone statue just shy of nine feet tall and a little over five feet wide was discovered in Mexico City. It was considered a monstrous heathen representation by its European “discoverers,” and after remaining in the University of Mexico for a short time, was buried again for fear that it would renew pagan worship by the local Indian population. It was subsequently exhumed several times in the nineteenth century, only to be buried again until the early twentieth century, when it was unearthed for the last time. It now stands in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. It has been identified as a representation of Coatlicue, “She of the Serpent Skirt,” and it has generated powerful responses since its discovery in 1790 because of its ominous appearance. This is a partial description of the ancient relic:

Standing on huge taloned feet, Coatlicue wears a dress of woven rattlesnakes. Her pendulous breasts are partially obscured behind a grisly necklace of severed hearts and hands. Writhing coral snakes appear in place of her head and hands, denoting gouts of blood gushing from her severed throat and wrists. The two great snakes emerging from her neck face one another, creating a face of living blood…Although a stupendous monument, this Coatlicue sculpture is not unique; two very similar but poorly preserved examples have also been discovered in Mexico City. (Miller and Taube 64)

Eurocentric reactions to the statue were predictable: horror and repulsion. But in the latter half of the twentieth century art critic Justino Fernández both analyzed the statue’s proportions as aesthetically brilliant, and gave credence and respect to the artistic representation of Coatlicue as a primal force of nature within the profound mythological role of Creator and Destroyer. Quoting the priest Ángel María Garibay, who explored Mexican Indian culture in the mid-twentieth century, Fernández reminds us that the Coatlicue, whose fertility is also responsible for the earth’s bounty, every night is “yearning to eat men’s hearts, and she will not keep quiet until she is fed with them, nor will she yield fruit unless she is watered with human blood” (Garibay 3ss, quoted in Fernández 129). Thus, concludes Fernández, Coatlicue “vibrates and lives, inside and out, the whole of her is life and is death…Coalicue is the dynamic-cosmic force giving life and maintained by death… and that is why she is supreme, a tragic and a moving beauty” (129). It is this version of Coatlicue – a deity that personifies the cosmic forces of life and death – that Castillo references in her novel. Castillo highlights another aspect of the goddess’s legend which the Aztecs actualized in an annual ritual: the sacrifice of Xalaquia. In this myth Coatlicue is “equated with” Chicomecoatl, the goddess of corn and nourishment (Nicholson 112). In order for Coatlicue to bring forth life – crops and food for the continued sustenance of the human race – the deity requires first to be fed herself, in the form of human sacrifice. Several accounts of this religious ritual were witnessed and recorded by various sources, including anthropologist Charles E. Dibble. Another observer, Lewis Spence, in The Myths of Mexico and Peru paints a chilling portrait of the ritual sacrifice to the corn goddess, Coatlicue:

The women of the pueblo (village) wore their hair unbound, and shook and tossed it so that by sympathetic magic the maize might …grow long…dances were nightly performed the central figure in which was the Xalaquia, a female captive or slave, with face painted red and yellow to represent the colors of the maize-plant….unaware of the horrible fate awaiting her, she danced and pirouetted gaily among the rest…the victim was stripped to a nude condition, the priest plunged a knife of flint into her bosom, and tearing out the still palpitating heart, offered it up to Chicomechohuatl. In this manner the venerable goddess…was supposed to be revivified and refreshed. (Spence 87)

Thus, Coatlicue’s legacy in art and ritual is consistent – the goddess personifies power in her hunger and thirst for sacrifice and death as well as in her legacy of sustaining mankind by bearing fruit and providing sustenance and life. Castillo is not the first Chicana feminist to befriend and incorporate Coatlicue – and her nature – into her body of work. Before Castillo’s novel, in 1987 Gloria Anzaldúa boldly asserted her affinity with indigenous sensibilities – and specifically Coatlicue – in her groundbreaking book, Borderlands / La Frontera:  The New Mestiza. She entitled one of her chapters La hernecia de Coatlicue / The Coatlicue State. Announcing that she was first “devoured” by Coatlicue at the age of two or three, Anzaldúa equated her psychological visits to the “underworld” with the “underground” aspects of Coatlicue, Chihuacoatl, and Tlazolteotl, the latter being the Aztec goddess of both sin and purification (Anzuldúa 64). The author explained that she embraced Coatlicue’s contradictory nature as a force of nature: “the consuming internal whirlwind…Goddess of birth and death, Coatlicue gives and takes away life; she is the incarnation of cosmic processes” (68). By descending into the “Coatlicue state” in her creative process, and by merging Aztec goddesses and the Virgen de Guadalupe into one entity, Anzaldúa claimed that by submitting to “Her,” the author eventually transcended her ego and crossed over to personal freedom (72). She described taking “dominion over serpents – over my own body, my sexual activity, my soul, my mind, my weaknesses and strengths” (73). This unorthodox transformation of ancient divinities into a figurative sisterhood, which facilitates and illuminates a spiritual journey for Chicana artists such as Anzaldúa, naturally invited a discourse of whether contemporary Chicanas could authentically and productively reinterpret ancient mythology to redefine their identities and concretize a new feminist vision of liberation. Dissenting voices arose to question the wisdom and sensibility of reclaiming Aztec goddesses that reinvented mythological personas to satisfy new cultural needs within the Chicana community. Josefina Saldaña Portillo claimed that by attempting to integrate indigenous religious icons with a contemporary mestiza culture, writers such as Anzaldúa dishonored and harmed current and historical communities and struggles of indigenous peoples in both North and South America (Saldaña Portillo 414). Rosaura Sánchez complained that “the reconstruction of mythic texts has served to legitimate modernizing political and economic practices by coupling the new with the autochthonous; in the process the historical grounding of these myths is more often than not lost” (Sánchez 357). But it is Sheila Contreras who challenges the ideological consequences inherent in the act itself. Although she supports both Sánchez’s and Saldaña Portillo’s objections, she additionally points out the contradictions embedded in Anzaldúa’s efforts to use Indian identification to separate herself from macho Chicanismo and European conquest. Contreras declares that claiming indigeneity is an example of the “rhetorical strategies …more widely associated with Chicano (male) indigenists,” and that, moreover, the pre-Columbian mythology upon which Anzaldúa and other Chicana feminists draw, was recorded and evaluated by Europeans (Contreras 194). Putting aside Contreras’s additional discomfort with reliance on mythology as a frame of reference instead of “material history or…the immediate moment,” it is difficult to discount Contreras on her crowning assertion of a seemingly insurmountable inconsistency in appropriating Aztec deities: glorifying “accepted conventions” of female connectedness with the earth only serves to further the female stereotypical role, and does “not challenge radically the grammar of patriarchy” (Contreras 122). Contreras concludes that, ultimately, the decision to privilege the notion of indigenous identity based upon ancient Aztec mythology “reinforces primitivist ideals” that are “based upon the transvaluation of binaries” which is symptomatic of the very systems Chicana feminism is fighting (Contreras 130). Contreras argues that this system of analysis is essentially flawed, and may very well “reproduce the conventions of anthropology and modern primitivism” that Chicana feminism is trying to eradicate (Contreras 131). But what of Ana Castillo’s use of the mythological imagery to provide the prism through which we can view Sapogonia? Does her novel misrepresent the nature of Coatlicue – and her counterpart Xalaquia? Does relating the myth result in the novel suffering from a form of self-sabotage, attempting to forge new ground while only unconsciously reinforcing old systems of patriarchal comprehension? Unlike Anzaldúa, Castillo’s representation of the images of Coatlicue – and Xalaquia – are not couched in psychological introspection and elaboration devoid of consequences. In Sapogonia, Castillo fully embraces Anzaldúa’s vision of Coatlicue’s shadow side – the complete nature of destruction as well as creation – but with a literary journey that does not romanticize or minimize the goddess’s ultimate power. And by presenting a detached view of the consequences of such a primal force – predator and prey, life and death – Castillo ultimately places the Aztec deities of Coatlicue and Xalaquia where they belong – as representations not of what should or could be, but of what has been true for as long as the human species has survived. Just as religion was an inseparable component in everyday life for the Aztecs, the language of myth and symbols is the fabric from which Sapogonia is fashioned. Indeed, Castillo uses mythology as the first context with which to introduce the two main characters that will drive her novel. The first page begins by blurring the lines between reality and imagination by informing the reader that we are about to read a “story of make-believe people in a real world; or…of real people in a make-believe world.” The author then stylistically formats a definition of the word “anti-hero” as the following: “In mythology and legend, a man who celebrates his own strength and exploits.” Along with two subsequent meanings listed, this explanation is “defined by Pastora Velásquz Aké.” The reader easily comes to understand that the “anti-hero” refers to the novel’s principle male character, Máximo Madrigal, and that Pastora, the definition’s creator, clearly sees the world – and men – through the lens of “mythology and legend.” Thus, from the very inception of the story, the two prototypical lovers – Máximo and Pastora – are inextricably linked not only to the dream like world of “make-believe,” but to the specific cultural and psychological realm of mythology. Coatlicue herself is not mentioned by name until almost halfway through the novel when Máximo first sees his destined lover, Pastora. He immediately associates her with the deity Coatlicue, “a goddess incarnated” (144). Unlike the other female characters Max seduces and uses to further his career, Pastora provides “a challenge” (145), and he immediately pushes hard “to defy that opaque wall from which behind she observed the world” (146). In the blink of an eye we are next in Max’s dream like trance, a state that is exacerbated not by Aztec mild altering herbs, but by a contemporary drug that throughout the novel acts as a substance that precedes trance and dreams – alcohol. Our first hint that we are about to enter the world of ancient ritual is when Max smells yerba buena, the mint like tea that curanderas and brujas use for various mental and physical manipulations. Unsure if he is awake or asleep, referring to Pastora in his thoughts now as Coatlicue, Máximo notices the “peculiar figurines” of pagan deities that encircle a lit candle (148). Pastora then enters the room not as Coatlicue, but as Xalaquia, “her face painted red and yellow” with a cup that smelled of mint (148). The reader learns by the end of the dream that Castillo’s Xalaquia is perfectly aligned with the historically reported descriptions of the sacrificial maiden in the ancient Aztec rituals, who Castillo describes as “a temporary personification of Coatlicue…given up to satisfy Coatlicue’s hunger and thirst” (149). When Max seems to wake up, and asks Pastora if she was Coatlicue, he arrogantly states that “Sometimes, I believe I am Huizilopochtli, ‘Sun God of the Aztecs,’” to which Pastora who is “not amused with the topic,” retorts “Tonight you were the hand that held the flint” (149), relegating him from a god to the Aztec priest who would thrust the “knife of flint” into the sacrificial victim (Spence 87). As the two characters continue in this dialogue to vie for psychic and emotional domination, switching back and forth between predator and prey, the one who is worshipped and the one who performs the bloody deed, Castillo makes no extraordinary spiritual claims. There is no romantic vision added to the basic myth, no New Age additions or imagined evolution – only the realization that, instead of downplaying the embedded mythological dualities about which Contreras warns, Sapogonia insists on embracing and emphasizing the paradoxes and contradictions of the images, and the consequences of the timeless images and truths of the ancient Aztec rituals and deities. But the imagery of Coatlicue and Xalaquia is not limited to obvious references. Indeed, like the world of mythology, all symbols and characters become connected to a common vision of destiny. For example, Castillo’s Máximo and Pastora continually recreate Spence’s sensual description of the Aztec sacrificial ritual of Xalaquia, where the village women danced with their “hair unbound…shook and tossed it so that by sympathetic magic the maize might …grow long…” (Spence 87). Referring to Pastora when meeting her at her friend Perla’s apartment, Máximo comments that  “Her hair was disheveled…I was aroused at the thought of her having been dancing and drinking uninhibitedly…” (125). Later, Máximo encounters Pastora in a bar, and “after having wine…she danced…She let her hair loose, the ribbons tossed precariously to the floor” (145). Fittingly, this occurs immediately before Máximo spends his first night with Pastora and his waking dream of her as Xalaquia. The theme of appetite – which echoes the image of Coatlicue’s greedy consumption of sacrificial victims transformed to providing food for man to consume – reoccurs throughout the novel. After suffering emotionally and physically from an abortion, Pastora “ate sparsely,” like “a great bird whose wings had been injured” (105-6).  She recognizes that “not enough nourishment” is a “steady and continuous direction towards self-destruction” and decides to begin taking care of herself again (121). But Pastora’s decision is based upon an understanding that Coatlicue’s myth teaches in the most barbaric way – that feeding oneself is necessary to provide for the world. Pastora realizes that she “could not pretend to care about the salvation of humanity and care nothing about herself” (121). And when Máximo’s father, Pío Madrigal speaks of the third world Latin American country of Sapogonia figuratively feeding the United States, the image of predator and prey actualized on a global level of political power is crystal clear. He complains that Sapogonia “turns over its natural resources to that avaricious beast north of it for the sake of protection and, in the process, leaves its people to starve” (49). The predominant backdrop for Coatlicue’s imagery remains, however, in the push and pull of Máximo and Pastora’s relationship. Máximo continues to be drawn to a woman he considers a witch, and she continues to go back to a man who she views as repulsive. Máximo muses that Pastora probably utilizes her “menagerie” of figurine goddesses to collect “men’s souls” (179). When he asks her, “What do you do – rip out their hearts and throw their trembling bodies out in the alley?” (179), he reminds us that the image of Coatlicue eating the hearts of sacrificial victims is always below the surface in Max’s vision of Pastora. And when Pastora responds to Máximo by saying that someone should “do you the favor by ripping out your tongue”, we see that – although she finds Máximo contemptible and repellent – Pastora cannot bring herself to sever the ties of the relationship. Like the mythology of Coatlicue and Xalaquia, the venerated and the supplicant, the consumer and the consumed, the two are bound together as a primal organism. Each is an adversary of the other, yet each obsessively is passionate in their desire for the other, and the two re-enact a timeless ritual of expansion and contraction that mirrors the rhythms of Coatlicue’s universe. In addition to the relationship of the two lovers, the structure of the novel itself mirrors the consistent themes of duality and ritual cycles – the building blocks of mythology, and Coatlicue in particular – when it pointedly bookends these themes in literally the beginning and the conclusion of Sapogonia. The first chapter sets up a dreamlike trance of sexual desire and slaughter, and the final chapter concludes with the identical scenario. The dream/murder in the novel’s introduction and conclusion – just like the scene of Máximo and Pastora’s first night together – is haunted with images from the sacrifice of Xalaquia. The victim is first “worshipped” in Chapter 1 (7), and is seen as divine in Chapter 59 (347). In both instances Pastora, like the unsuspecting victims in the ritual sacrifice of Xalaquia, is unaware of what she is about to experience, and in both the opening chapter and closing chapter she is stabbed with a sharp object in her chest – not unlike the flint knife thrust into the victim’s “bosom” described in the sacrificial ritual to the Corn Mother. In the first chapter, Coatlicue’s insatiable hunger is reflected in “the new mouth of her [Pastora’s] chest” made by the stabbing  (7), while in the last chapter Máximo tells his lover he wants to be “swallowed up by your vagina” (347). Finally, both re-enactments illustrate the required balance of life and death that Coatlicue demands. In the first chapter we are told that the murderer will have come “full circle,” only to die “thousands of miles away” (8), while at the novel’s conclusion Máximo tells himself that Pastora should have murdered him, but since she did not, “she has left it up to you”, and he must finish the required act of death (349).  And although the reader is not certain whether or not the murderous sequence of events is in the “real world” or the “make-believe world” of Sapogonia, even this ambiguity is consistent with the world of symbols where Coatlicue resides – where life and death are one in the same. Again, this is reflected in Castillo’s format of chronologically delineating this theme in the beginning and the end of the novel. In the second chapter, Máximo’s grandmother, Mamá Grande, explains to Máximo that he will experience death whether it his actual death or that of his lover – “la misma cosa” – as if Coatlicue herself had told Max that living and dying are all a part of the same phenomenon – merely two aspects of the same cycle (13). And as Pastora’s thoughts bring the novel to a close in the Epilogue she muses that even in the face of her marriage to another man, and despite her commitment to motherhood, Máximo’s relentless calling would eventually end in her surrendering once more to their infinite pattern of union and repulsion, “and it would all begin again” (353). This last revelation – that Pastora is unable and unwilling to break the pattern of magnetic union followed by violent severance with Máximo – seems to contradict another development within the novel: Pastora’s character clearly evolves after giving birth to a child. But even this transformation – from a woman dedicated to her own artistic mission to a nurturing mother whose objective is to serve others – is understandable when viewed within the parameters of the ancient vision of Coatlicue’s duality. Just as the goddess moves from an insatiable hunger to feed herself to a time of giving, of bringing bounty to the Earth, Pastora shifts her self obsessed artistic career to other directed service in the form of motherhood and family. This is subtly revealed when reexamining the motif of eating and appetite. The very first time in the novel that Pastora prepares a meal for another is when she is a mother, and she prepares a chicken for dinner (322). Later, in the Epilogue, she asks her husband Eduardo – a man distinctly different from Máximo, in that Eduardo is humble and willing to offer service to the world without external recognition and praise – if Eduardo is hungry. Thus, unlike earlier instances in the novel where Máximo and others had cooked for her, Pastora moves from the one who must be fed to the provider of nurturance to others (352). Additionally, a grey streak running down the middle of her head denotes another example of sacrificial service to another: through the process of indigenous rituals Pastora has willingly traded part of her life for the life of her child. But while Máximo is dumbfounded and enraged, “because now he knew she was capable of self-sacrifice,” and he “would’ve used her for his own purposes, wrung her” (302), Pastora finds satisfaction in her belief that creating a new life is the ultimate service. “Its humanity, Máximo. The moment you and I acted like mating animals, that is when we submitted to our mortality…And my son is…a continuity of the species, a simple and humble fact” (304). Indeed, one of Contreras’s objections – that an indigenous prism reinforces female stereotypes within the Chicana community – appears validated when Pastora’s identification with an Earth bound spirituality strengthens her primal urge for motherhood, sacrifice and nurturance, all characteristics that seem to validate the male/female binary of patriarchy. But in all fairness, one would have to ask Contreras, how does one inhabit a reality without creation, sacrifice and nurturing? And in the case of Sapogonia, it is not only a female character, but a male character – Eduardo – who also surrenders to the notions of service and self sacrifice. Thus, while Castillo does not wince from, minimize, or exaggerate the effects of the darkest side of Coatlicue – the personification of death and destruction – she conversely does not shy away from the goddess’s  greatest gifts: sensual pleasure, the biological and spiritual imperative to create, and the positive attributes of service to another. Ultimately, Castillo’s novel completely adheres to spirit of Coatlicue, and to Miguel Léon-Portilla’s notion that a culture’s mythology and spirituality are inseparable. Léon-Portilla offers the following general description of indigenous American spirituality in the context of Aztec mythology:

…a sense of mystery, the awareness that beyond what is physically perceivable, beyond what appears as merely material, there are in the universe other sources of meaning, dynamic principles, supernatural beings, ultimate realities, with which man can communicate once he discovers the means of approaching them. (Léon-Portilla  4)

Thus, one must finally echo Elsa Saeta, whose review of Sapogonia sets the novel apart in its artistry and transcendent meaning: “Although the novel shares important features with both feminist and Latino fiction,” Saeta states, “attempts to classify Ana Castillo’s Sapogonia as primarily a ‘feminist’ novel or a ‘Latina’ novel minimize the complexity of her book” (Saeta 67). In this way Sapogonia, unlike the re-imaginings of Aztec mythology as a newly created polemic or personal utopia, is a true representation of indigenous mythology and spirituality in all of its tragic and in all of its glorious aspects – like Coatlicue, a powerful vision in the world of dreams.

Despina Bonadies is working towards her B.A. in English and a minor in Classics. She originally attended Berkeley in 1978 and returned to complete her degree in the Fall of 2010. Her hobbies include a successful bookkeeping business, two grown daughters who cheer her on, and a marriage of thirty one years to a man who – among other talents – makes a mean tomato sauce during finals week. Returning to Berkeley has been a dream come true.

Works Cited Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1987. Print. Castillo, Ana. Sapogonia. New York: Anchor Books Doubleday, 1994. Print. Contreras, Sheila Marie. “Blood Lines: Myth, Indigenism, and Chicana/o Literature”. Chicana Masters Series. Ed. Deena J. González and Antonia Castañeda. Austin: University of Texas Press. 105-132. Print. Dibble, Charles E. “The Xalaquia Ceremony.” Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl 14 (1980):197-202. Print. Fernández, Justino. Coatlicue. Estética del arte indígena antiguo. Centro de Estudios Filosoficos, U.N.A.M., México, 1954. Print. Garibay , Ángel María, Épica náhuatl. México, U.N.A.M, “Biblioteca del Estudiante Universitario,” núm. 51, 1945. Print. Léon-Portilla, Miguel. Native Mesoamerican Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1980. Print. Miller, Mary and Karl Taube. The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1993. Print. Nicholson, Irene. Mexican and Central American Mythology. London: Paul Hamlyn Limited, 1967. Print. Saldaña Portillo, Josefina. “Who’s the Indian in Aztlán? Re-Writing Mestizaje, Indianism and Chicanismo from the Lacandón”. The Latin American Subaltern Reader. Ed. Ileana Rodriguez . Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001. Print. Saeta, Elsa. “Ana Castillo’s Sapogonia: Narrative Point of View as a Study in Perception”. University of Texas Pan American. 67-72. Print. Sánchez, Rosaura. “Reconstructing Chicana Gender Identity”. American Literary History 9.2 (Summer 1997): 350-363. Print. Spence, Lewis. The Myths of Mexico and Peru. London: Ballantyne  & Company, 1913. Print.

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