Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate April 2001

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Gloria Anzaldúa's autobiographical novel Borderlands/La Frontera explores, performs, and exhibits the experience of living in two places, cultures, languages, and realities at the same time. Questioning the spiritual perceptions, planned possibilities, sexual pleasures, and gender displacements of being a lesbian chicana living and working in the Anglo culture of the present-day United States, Anzaldúa discusses the difficulty in discovering personal identity in the borderlands. By mixing lyric and prose, myth and memoirs, Spanish and English, past and present, Anzaldúa creates a patchwork of differing border lives which lets us experience the abundance of fixed attitudes and clashing cultures that alternative border people must contend with while living out their day-to-day lives.

Through the progression of this course, never has a reading reached me on so many levels, cliché as this statement may seem. Whereas in other readings I have been able to relate to characteristics of the border people represented in the text, much in the same way I would relate to a character out of a Charles Dickens novel or an Aldous Huxley short story, I truly felt that I was Anzaldúa while reading Borderlands/La Frontera, or that I related to her on so many levels that I could actually see myself as a player in the forever unfolding borderland drama.

My best explanation for this personal connection is that a majority of the subject matter mirrored my own personal beliefs or struggles in life, such as alternative sexuality or awareness of spirituality. Anzaldúa's writing is honest and modern, and though I gather that her intention throughout the text is not to persuade, I found myself often not challenging a single idea--not because her rhetoric was that incredibly strong, but due to a great respect I formed for her opinions merely paragraphs into the text.

While reading, there...