Every writer has the ability to make their writing remarkable, beautiful, and complex by using elements like genre, discourse, and code. Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza is a semi-autobiographical work by Gloria Anzaldúa. She examines the relations of her lands, languages, and herself overall. She defines the borders she has around herself in the preface of the book: “The actual physical borderland that I’m dealing with in this book is the Texas-U.S. Southwest/Mexican border. The psychological borderlands, the sexual borderlands and the spiritual borderlands…the Borderlands are physically present wherever two or more cultures edge each other, where people of different races occupy the same territory, where under, lower, middle and upper classes touch, where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy” (Anzaldúa: Preface). The book is broken into two main sections. The semi-autobiographical section composed of seven smaller sections and the poetry section that is both in Spanish and English.
The most important question is: if the elements of genre, discourse, and code can express another kind of content, how do they combine to complete the meaning of this book? Before answering the question, I will describe each element, what I found for each one, and then answer how these elements combine to complete the meaning of this book.
A type of literary composition would be genre. The genres and literary forms for this book were put into the following categories: semi-autobiography, memoir, poetry (confessional versus conceptual), myths, subjective journalism, Mexican sayings (dichos), critical ethnography, historical narrative, personal narrative, and auto historia. This is a semi-autobiography and a memoir because it is a story of Anzaldúa’s life written by her that focuses on the memories of her experiences and feelings, and combines all of this with historical facts. It has the concepts of identity, memory, experience, and space (Hight).
Furthermore, by using myths like the one about Coatlicue, the Aztec goddess of life, death and rebirth, she is able to find her own individual space and reinvents the birth of her affiliation to her community. I also put this book into the category of critical ethnography. It focuses on the implied values expressed within ethnographic studies. “Critical ethnography begins with an ethical responsibility to address processes of unfairness or injustice within a particular lived domain” (Madison). These are the misunderstood biases that may result from implied values.
Discourses can be either implicit or explicit. I would describe this as a form of telling the reader what the author wants them to know. Language can be manipulated in such a way that it can cause a certain effect or provoke a specific response. The discourses for this book were put into the following categories: Chicano Cultural Nationalism, Post-Colonial Theory, strategic essentialism, mestizaje, sexual and cultural identity,...