Lisa Nevárez

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The treachery of a woman, the violence of conquest, and the birth of the mestizo—these form the beginnings of Mexico’s history. Octavio Paz vocalizes the grito unique to Mexico, ¡Viva México, hijos de la Chingada!, and in so doing takes his place among the individuals salivating to blame La Malinche, also known as Marina or Malintzín, for her betrayal of her people by giving birth to Hernán Cortés’ child, the “first” mestizo and the ancestor of the modern Mexican.1 Examining the novels Xicoténcatl (1826), published anonymously, and Los mártires del Anáhuac (1870), by Eligio Ancona, facilitates a glimpse into fictional revisions of La Malinche and the Conquest of Mexico.2 In each author’s reinterpretation of the Conquest, he inserts female figures, respectively Teutila and Geliztli, whose efforts to repel the colonizing forces meet with repeated failure and whose fertility male characters curtail; ultimately, he provides a scapegoat in place of La Malinche. In Xicoténcatl the author offers an account of the title hero of Tlaxcala during the conquest of Mexico in the earliest historical novel by a Latin American, and Ancona also delves into the past to resurrect his nation’s earliest colonial experience in Los mártires del Anáhuac. The conflicted dynamics between colonizer/colonized and male/female underscore these texts; when viewed together Teutila and Geliztli no longer appear as stock characters that add dramatic moments of female distress. They instead mitigate the extreme emotions of author, reader, and nation through sacrifice. Moving chronologically through these variations of the Conquest of Mexico, the texts span different epochs of Mexican history, independence (Xicoténcatl) and reform (Los mártires del Anáhuac), that intersect through images of the woman and of sacrifice, and raise larger issues relating to independence in nineteenth-century Latin America and the role of fiction in these projects.