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According to Butler, «performativity must be understood not as a singular or deliberate 'act', but, rather, as the reiterative and citational practice by which discourse produces the effects that it names» (Bodies 2).



Barzilai has argued that «Snow White» is Snow White's story since «her perspective orients the narrative from beginning to end» (261). Nonetheless, it seems important to note that we are never told how Snow White perceives the queen, only how the queen perceives Snow White as a threat to her «supremacy».



The narrator of the story does make what appear to be tongue-in-cheek references to «envidia de la madre, del vestido, de la panza de la madre, etcétera» (19).



It has been noted by a number of feminist critics, in reference to the story of Snow White, that the patriarchy speaks through the wicked queen's mirror and in turn through her (see Gilbert and Gubar, Madwoman, among others). Valenzuela suggests in «Avatares» (another story from Simetrías) that the queen is in fact a pawn of the patriarchy, his henchman as it were. It is interesting to note that in «Cuchillo y madre», the patriarchy speaks not only through the mother but also through the daughter, who seeks the mother she has been taught to expect, again dramatizing how deeply internalized the master narratives are.



We might say that the reverse happens in «Snow White». When the looking glass responds (with the voice of the patriarchy to be sure) that voice in a sense tells the queen to move over and make room for the step daughter.

It should be noted too that a number of critics have analyzed this story and the others in Simetrías from a Lacanian perspective. But, that perspective is often placed in question by the very critics who have employed it. For example, Díaz notes that in «Cuchillo y madre» Valenzuela inverts the Lacanian terms and the Lacanian movement from the imaginary order to the symbolic order («Tango» 227). Boland, refers to the story as «a teasing, allusive, elliptical mediation on the psychosexual nexus between mother and daughter» (233) but concludes that Valenzuela «issues a teasing caveat to her readers that a psychoanalytical dissection of a text can be a tiresome business and that it is therefore best to respect the sacred beauty and mystery of the language of the unconscious» (234).



Nonetheless, as Butler has argued, the idea that is mirrored depends on the mirroring itself to be sustained as an ideal (Bodies 14).



It is important to bear in mind, however, that this assumption of a sociopolitical, gender role is not voluntary. As Butler has cogently argued in regard to gender roles, «This 'activity' [...] cannot, strictly speaking, be [...] a willful appropriation, and it is certainly not a question of taking on a mask; it is the matrix through which all willing first becomes possible, its enabling cultural condition» (Bodies 7).



The performativity of the language here is particularly overt, even though, paradoxically it is a negated performativity since the child acts only in her imagination.



The daughter takes this charge as a direct stab to the heart (17) -but a stab not self-inflicted this time. Her reaction is to feel like she is drowning, which of course she is, drowning in a sea of what others tell her she wants or desires.



Gilbert and Gubar have noted in reference to «Snow White» that the evil stepmother trusts the wisdom of the mirror (much as we trust the wisdom of the master narratives) but that the mirror speaks with the voice of the king (Madwoman 42). I would expand that notion to propose that the mirror speaks not necessarily with the voice of the individual king (who in the Valenzuela story is definitively absent) but with the voice of the internalized master narratives.