Selecciona una palabra y presiona la tecla d para obtener su definición.


Heilbrun has noted that one of the chief sources of patriarchal power is the fact that it is embodied in unquestioned narratives (109).

Although I focused on different stories at that time, the «they say» was also one of the focal points of an earlier article on this collection, «Simetrías: Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall...». As I argued there, the protagonist of «Tango», the first story of Simetrías, is characterized by the fact that she has internalized a series of anonymous and impersonal words, social mores, «they say» (yet we never know who the «they» might be), which control her every move but go unchallenged.



As the editors of Ties That Bind note in their introduction, «Yet no woman comes to motherhood in a vacuum. From her earliest years, she has been the recipient of a continuous stream of dictates [...] emanating from her culture, and instructing her on the norms of femininity [...] she will learn that motherhood is constantly mediated by her own, and her culture's, story of daughterhood. Indeed, so intertwined is the experience of being mothered to one's own experience of mothering, that the meanings of either are indecipherable apart» (1).

Those who are familiar with Valenzuela's works will immediately realize that mothers, indeed families, are generally absent in her narrative. In the beginning of Hay que sonreír there is a fleeting mention of Clara's father, who has effectively cast her out of the house, and of her mother, who might or might not return from her long «paseo», but apparently both are soon forgotten. At the other extreme, the Brujo of Cola de lagartija would give birth to himself, thereby precluding the possibility of a family outside of himself (in a gesture that might also be read as an attempt to elide the instrumentality of woman in his birth and deny that man is born of woman -not unlike the classical myth of Athena being born of Zeus). Other familial relationships are virtually nonexistent in her prior works. For that reason, the relations that we do find in a number of the stories in Simetrías seem particularly worthy of study. Families are pivotal in «Avatares», «El enviado», «La densidad de las palabras», and «Si esto es la vida, yo soy Caperucita Roja».



According to Hirsch, Dally cites 1597 as the first entry for «motherhood» in the Oxford English Dictionary (14).



The quotation continues, «Each subsequent age and society has defined it [motherhood] in its own terms and imposed its own restrictions and expectations on mothers» (17).



To be sure, once in a while the word was seized by a woman -a «masteress», a madam, a mistress? (It would seem that we have no term for the feminine form of the word master that does not carry a strong connotation of sexual commodity). She was called Meade or Klein or Kristeva.



At the same, and perhaps to assure that all our attention focused on the males, those master narratives assured us that we would desire our sons, who would want to kill their fathers, our husbands, so they could replace them and marry us, not because they necessarily desire us but because they want to occupy his position, usurp his power and possessions (including us).



And, according to the self-conscious narrator, that embedded tale is «[e]l lento y penoso desarrollo de una trama que la narrativa volverá ligera» (13).



Significantly, the psychoanalytical phallus is often metaphorized as a knife. We certainly have a knife in the Valenzuela story, but, while it is referred to as a «gran cuchillo» and an «enorme cuchillo», throughout the story it is controlled by women. Furthermore, it may be «contundente y filoso» (15), but, in this case, it is not a weapon, and certainly not phallic. It is a «vulgar cuchillo», a domestic, kitchen knife, one used for chopping meat and cutting potatoes and one that apparently never leaves the confines of the home, which is specifically labeled, «materno». Thus, the knife in Valenzuela's rendition is a womanly one, under the control of and used or not used by the females. So much for Lacan's ever desired phallus, and Freud's penis envy, as Valenzuela posits that the daughter and mother of «Cuchillo y madre» might desire differently.



My notions of one story as opposed to The story are indebted to the distinctions made between the and my body by Diana Fuss and Adrienne Rich. As Fuss notes in reference to Rich's statements, «The body connotes the abstract, the categorical, the generic, the scientific, the unlocalizable, the metaphysical; my body connotes the particular, the empirical, the local, the self-referential, the immediate, the material» (52). Or as Rich earlier expressed it, «To write 'my body' plunges me into lived experience, particularity: I see scars, disfigurements, discolorations, damages, losses, as well as what pleases me [...] To say 'my body' reduces the temptation to grandiose assertions» (cited in Fuss 52).



I use the notions of citation and performance as theorized by Butler in Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter.