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La Malinche at the Intersection: Race and Gender in Down These Mean Streets

Marta E. Sánchez
PMLA
Vol. 113, No. 1, Special Topic: Ethnicity (Jan., 1998), pp. 117-128
DOI: 10.2307/463413
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/463413
Page Count: 12
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La Malinche at the Intersection: Race and Gender in Down These Mean Streets
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Abstract

Piri Thomas's Down These Mean Streets (1967) challenges binary notions of whiteness and blackness by valorizing a third term-mestizaje. And yet the novel enlists dominant views of female gender and sexuality to affirm the protagonist's ethnic male identity. In my Chicana feminist reading of this Puerto Rican text, I import the reinterpreted figure La Malinche and its companion figure La Chingada-prevailing tropes in Chicano and Chicana literature and discourse of the 1960s-to illuminate the complex intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class. These intersections are key to social analyses that transcend binary conceptions of race and paradigms of dominant and subaltern.

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