From Out of the Shadows Essay

The writer imitates no standard and generally accepted literary style of those times. The essays have no lack in tension, strength and dynamics. Ana Castillo doesn’t deviate from the theme, despite being limited by gender bounds. This woman wrote the book in the course of important cultural and social changes; therefore Massacre of the Dreamers deserves detailed exploration. It is apparent, that Mexican-American literature cannot but place emphasis on social, feminist and racial issues. In this regard Castillo’s collection of essays can be called a perfect example of the literature of ‘resistance’. Ana Castillo tells not only about the loss of culture and land, but also the role offered to Mexicans. The ‘promised paradise’ turned into the land of changes and struggle for national identity.

Feminist movement evidently had great impact on Ruitz’ “From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in the United States”. In the introduction the writer tells that being the “farm workers, flappers, labor activists, barrio volunteers, civic leaders, and feminists, Mexican women have made history. Their stories, however, have remained in the shadows” (Ruiz, 1999). The book is not a chronicle of events, but a real challenge to the modern society. The point at issue is that up to this point the history belonged to the men. The men took part in historic events; they made the history, they were undergoing severe trials, overcoming them and writing about them. The entire accumulated ‘masculine’ experience was identified as a universal history; the history in its comprehensive whole.

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Vicky Ruitz explores the role of Mexican women in twentieth century America. Her book seems to balance the historical scales. The author poses a number of fascinating problems in order to fill the gap in American history and to find a proper place for corresponding historiographic categories. From Out of the Shadows is the attempt to take a new and serious view on the lore of Mexican women in the history. The point at issue is not to bring the women’s history back, but to bring the women their history back. In such a way, the entire book tells about not only the women and their place in history, but above all, about the women’s roles, their experiences, actions, struggle of women to make sense of the new world, and their attempts to influence the world into which they had migrated.

 While reading Vicky Ruitz’s book we can come to conclusion that Mexican women often seemed to escape notice for unnearly the decades simply because the American society considered that Mexican women with all their experience, activity, interests, struggle for national identity, as well as their sphere of life had no significant historical and social interest. Therefore, Vicky Ruitz’s book has shocked and turned up the entire hierarchy of historically important and unimportant things. The author presents a new vision and estimation of what Mexican women done, must do and what they are supposed to do.

Vicky Ruitz’s numerous thoughts are a good food for reflection. Sometimes they are contradictory, and are not the subject for further generalization; however, it deserves more detailed research exceptionally due to its specific nature. Vicky Ruitz doesn’t tell that the role of Mexican women is specifically female. It is neither the special case nor the partial problem of American history. While exploring the issues of “interpreting voice and locating power between and within communities, families, and individuals” (Ruiz, 1999), she asserts that “women’s lives, dreams and decisions take center stage” (Ruiz, 1999).

Vicky Ruitz bases her work on such important concepts like feminine experience, feminine community, feminine identity, and vision, to mention a few. The role of so-called contextual role of personal experience is given much space in the book. The role of Mexican women in American history relates both to political history (the stories of participation/ exclusion from the process of society administration), economical history (the history of their labor, employment, entrepreneurship, wages, etc), as well as the history of right (struggle for equal rights, etc), and the history of family, as far as Mexican women’s history embraces some aspects of demographic history, the history of culture and public life, daily routine, mode of life, and traditions.

Vicky Ruitz dwells on gender roles. She expresses her attitude to the fact that Mexican women were often forced to fulfill the men’s duties. She refutes numerous displays of male interpretation of women’s roles. One of the most important threads running all through the book is rehabilitation of feminism as a policy as well as awakening of women’s social self-consciousness and self-actualization.

The author explores the history of Mexican migration to America, the settlement in the U.S., the history of America before World War II, and other historical backgrounds. She explores the effect the ‘melting pot’ theory made on Mexican women, as well as women’s response to Americanization and American culture. The public role of Mexican women also finds its reflection in the book, as well as a reference to their attempts to resist to economic oppression. Further the author logically continues the book by exploring the active participation of Mexican women in the feminist movement of 1960s and 1970s, as well as their political activity in recent years.

There is a great deal of truth in what Vicky Ruitz says. There were almost no publications about Mexican American women in twentieth century in U.S., and Ruitz’s book is of great benefit to a wide circle of readers.

In conclusion I’d like to tell that place of Mexican women in American history can be determined by the words that should be added to the foreword to Vicky Ruitz’ From Out of the Shadows. With no participation of Mexican women, their self-sacrifice, patience, love and strength the U.S. history would have never existed.

References

Ruiz, V. L. (1999). From Out of the Shadows: Mexican American Women in the Twentieth-Century America. Oxford University Press.