A Literary Analysis on “Mother Tongue” By Demetria Martinez Essay

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A Literary Analysis on “Mother Tongue” By Demetria Martinez “His nation chewed him up and spat him out like a pinon shell, and when he emerged from an airplane one late afternoon, I knew I would one day make love with him” (Martinez, 3). And so it starts, the story of a nineteen year old Mexican- American girl named Mary (Maria; as he only chooses to call her), who helps out and eventually falls in love with Jose Luis Alegria, a Salvadoran refugee. Martínez's story of María is told against the backdrop of the 12-year civil war in El Salvador. Maria and Jose Luis develop a friendship that slowly turns into a typical novella love affair. Through their relationship, both characters are forced to confront the violence of their …show more content…
When the novel opens, you will notice that Maria lacks any connection to a larger family, network, or com-munity. This is something I did not expect because usually traditional Hispanic families tend to have this trend of unity within the family and community. Throughout the book Maria is living completely without any family or close friends (with the exception of Soledad; but Soledad is not really physically around her). Her mother died of cancer and her father abandoned the family when she was young. In addition to having no family, Maria only once mentions friends, who “quit calling” when they heard she had fallen in love: [My friends] knew I wouldn’t come out of the house, the house I drew with crayons, a house of primary colors I called love ... [they] tried to tell me it was not real. To prove them wrong, I drew a keyhole on the front door and invited them to look through to the other side. See for yourselves, I said. (Martinez , 46)
What I get from Maria’s use of the metaphor of a house illustrates her understanding of love as a domestic, private matter. Also, her offer to her friends indicates her concern with safety; as you can see she does not invite her friends inside, but asks them only to observe through a “keyhole.” If we look another closer look at one