I think this book was so great, because it brings into question the role of class, of culture, of dominance and of resistance. Although it is a folklore, Americo Paredes shows how the ‘myths’ of Gregorio Cortez incorporate important historical events, whilst putting an artistic twist on many perspectives of these events. As such, this book was certainly beneficial in many communities as it gave light to new views and meaning in the tales of Gregorio Cortez. I think that it is important to recognize, however, that Cortez was not the first, nor the last, to go through the obstacles and hardships mentioned in the story. There has since been, and continues to be, subordination of Mexican communities. This got me thinking about the role and influence With His Pistol in His Hand after it was published, particularly within the Chicano population.
After a bit of research, I found that Paredes’ book became popular in the sociopolitical realm in the 1960s, which broadened the scope of readers and gave it more meaning in the world. It seems that the groups that were particularly intrigued by the book were groups of young adult working-class Mexican Americans, especially those who attended either college or university. These individuals apparently took part in some political protests and cultural rebellion that were occurring at this time. Thus, Paredes’ study on this anthropological folklore was not only scholarly but was written in such a poetic and artistic manner that it had tremendous impact on the Chicano writers in the new generation, as well as on other intellectuals and the general activist population. One major aspect is the obvious fact that Cortez is recognized as a hero in the book, and most likely serves as a role model for young Chicanos who were/are resisting Anglo authority. However, it was also probably the actual publication of the text, as it was proven that it was even possible for a Chicano author to publish. In addition to that, this book shows that it is possible to talk about a Chicano in a new light, and for that to be heard and recognized within society.
This made me reflect on how much influence literature can have on people, both positive and negative. For instance, how we were talking about American Dirt and how much of an impact and dialogue it was causing on its readers. As cliché as it sounds, words are powerful. Authors do have quite a bit of power and influence over their readers, especially when well-written. With a Pistol in His Hand is a perfect example of this; this book began as a thesis statement, a man exploring his interest and curiosities of Gregorio Cortez, and then turned out to touch and inspire the lives of many. Pretty darn cool.
3 thoughts on “With a Pistol in His Hand (Part 2)”
I also think it’s interesting that this book is not only an analysis about a certain ballad, but is the catalyst for Chicano literary analysis and creates a crucial dialogue about the history and background of live South of the Rio Grande. While it creates vital discussion and a new genre of literary analysis, the legend of Gregorio Cortez probably has created pride in many Border Mexicans; pride of being a Mexican citizen and fighting for your right. This legend, and also the book by Paredes, has given meaning to the lives of many and shown countless people what Mexican citizens will stand for and will fight for.
My favourite part of your post was when you said: “One major aspect is the obvious fact that Cortez is recognized as a hero in the book, and most likely serves as a role model for young Chicanos who were/are resisting Anglo authority”. This reminds me of what we talked about in class about truths, and whether or not it matters if what is said in the corrido actually happened or not. I would say that whether or not the small details included in the corrido actually happened or not doesn’t seem to matter, and in fact add to the fun of the corrido; but what does matter is the fact that Chicanos had this figure to look up to and admire, in this case, through song.
When I read this line “I think that it is important to recognize, however, that Cortez was not the first, nor the last, to go through the obstacles and hardships mentioned in the story. There has since been, and continues to be, subordination of Mexican communities.”, I was just speechless. It’s crazy because that is the reality for a lot of people nowadays and not just in Mexico. This is just one case that has be “documented” and highlighted but there are also others who are or who have gone through something more difficult and more tragic than what happened to Gregorio Cortez. It’s a pretty good wake up call for us who are living in a pretty safe and peaceful country.