In paragraphs 27 through 34 of Gloria Anzaldua’s essay “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”; she subtly conveys her own disgust at the invariable destruction of her Chicano culture by using the rhetorical strategies of organized syntax, narrative flashbacks, and the incorporation of her “native tongue”.
Between paragraphs 27 and 30, the syntax conveys Anzaldua’s deep emotions about her lingual identity using mostly balanced and declarative sentences. The perfect balanced in noticed in excerpts such as “Until I can take pride in my language, I cannot take pride in myself. Until I can accept as legitimate Chicano Texas Spanish, Tex-Mex, and all other languages I speak, I cannot accept the legitimacy of myself”. In a series of staccato complex sentences Anzaldua further describes her longing for lingual acceptance by stating “I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white.
I will have my serpent’s tongue – my woman’s voice, my sexual voice, m y poet’s voice”. By organizing her sentences in this way, she draws the reader’s attention to the fact that she is virtually unable to accept herself without her own language being accepted as it is a part of her. In this way the reader is able to sympathize with the author’s lack of self-realization and is able to more fully understand the author’s indignation with the dissection of her mother-tongue.
Anzaldua employs the useful tactic of a narrative flashback to further instill an empathetic emotion in the reader. She recounts her “stunned amazement” upon reading her first Chicano novel “City of Night”. Soon after that she is exposed to more Chicano literature an even poetry, and with each exposure she gains “a feeling of pure joy” and “a sense of belonging”. Here, she targets a the basic human emotion of wanting to be accepted among a group for who we truly are as opposed to what others want us or think us to be. Such a plea for acceptance is an easy concept for the reader to relate to, and thus this method serves to draw the reader into the author’s personal predicament and promote her feelings of resentment at the degradation of her “native” culture.
The author does a wonderful job of incorporating her own language into the essay as a whole. She does so in a way that, even non-Spanish speaking readers, can understand the gist of the message she is trying to convey. Also by integrating her native language into the essay she expresses its importance to her. In lines such as “People who were to amount to something didn’t go to Mexican movies, or bailes, or tune their radios to bolero, rancherita, and corrido music”, Anzaldua is not obligated to translate the last three words as the context of the passage reveals the basic meanings of those words to an acceptably understandable degree. Her incorporation of her language is almost seen as an attempt for her to personally save or even resurrect the language that she prefers most and wishes others would accept as justifiable so she herself can come to realize her own legitimacy.
Throughout her essay, Anzaldua keeps to her course of trying to express her sadness at her cultures disassembling through several rhetorical devices, notably those of syntax, flashback, and by including the language she is most comfortable with. With these tactics she is able to better reach the average reader on a personal level and to gain their empathy in her hopes of preserving/reinstating her disappearing culture.
Courtney from Study Moose
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