Views on Women Challenged


            The traditional views on women have always been challenged despite the everlasting beliefs of how a lady is supposed to act. Time and time again in the media, the arts, work fields, politics, in our community, and even in our own household one can witness the battle of women trying to overwrite pre-judgments and norms. The Hummingbirds Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea offers a realistic picture of how the woman is supposed to act, behave, speak, and even what to wear. The novel also makes humanity witness the beauty and strength of women and how powerful they can truly be if they are set free.

            Teresita and Huila show us the different sides of this little world showing how a woman can be gifted by being a curandera and helping people, having the hearts of many, and giving the gift of hope. Even as to become named the most dangerous women in Mexico in reference to Teresita. But on the other side, tradition tells us women are only meant to be in the kitchen, for children, and to attending to men. Those who are different are abolished and looked at badly even in the eyes of a Roman Priest. The sermon of this believed to be priest/pope makes it appear as if any women who is a fighter, filled with love, and truth as well as trying to help humanity even more so than a man could ever do is a harlot from Satan (Urrea, 420-421). For the less religious, this harlot could mean that she is the scum of the earth and a fake. The gender implications found in this sermon from the “heretic” priest are simply that women cannot be stronger than man in any sense. It is not viewed right that women hold the reigns of households or have the power of being a leader. A woman cannot heal, have her own thoughts/actions/words, education, and be an individual standing tall even when married.

            Through the book we see the roles of women change from the norm with characters such as Huila, Cateyana, Teresita, Dona Loreto, and even Gabriela Cantua. To start of with Huila, she is intelligent, wise, and powerful, speaks her own mind, and has direct connection with nature, spiritual world, and that of humans. She is a curandera and has the ability to heal whomever by using natural remedies and prayers, help women give birth, and cure men. Huila always had a crude sense of humor/speech and an attitude, people were surprised that this holy woman with a shawl and shotgun was a servant for Don Tomas; that very same woman who’s blessed hands brought babies to the world, drive wicked spirits away, made remedies with teas, could ever work for someone (Urrea 47).  Her power just like the other women in the novel seem to come from God which is more than acceptable in the highly religious/superstitious community. She is an inspiration for other women and a big help for men.

            Cateyana, the mother of Teresita and who’s name means the messenger of God or Hummingbird, in an unfortunate manner can be seen how she differs from the norm. Cateyana gets pregnant at a young age from a random man (who in fact is Don Tomas) and abandons Teresita when she was a baby only to leave her with her abusive Tia. This event is not typical for Mexican women to do as they are supposed to be carrying and lovable and raise their children, as well as not have sexual intercourses before marriage.

            Teresita, the daughter of the hummingbird and the most special and powerful woman in Mexico who even threaten the president and other governmental/authority figures but, cured many and brought back hope and belief. Teresita is the daughter of Don Tomas, student of Huila, and what The People call a saint and a revolutionary figure. She has many powers; she first starts with the power of healing through herbs/nature, prayer, and being a midwife. This wonderful girl refused to be like the typical daughter of a higher ranking person, Teresita “refused to wear a petti-coat. She did not like hats, however, and rejected out of hand the small pillbox-and-veil. She refused to stick out her pinkie when sipping. It was, after all, her body” (Urrea, 244, 245). After some time she was raped and died but as some days past she resurrected and was granted even more healing powers, this time with a simple touch. Teresita must be considered the most dangerous woman in Mexico due to her death and reanimation bringing her healing powers more abundant than before. People all over go to see her because she is so powerful and a saint and they want to be healed. She is considered to be a queen and people will listen to her. President Diaz feared revolution from the people due to her and even turbulence in his presidency for she has power over the people.

            Dona Loreto (Don Tomas’ first wife) and even Gabriela Cantua (Don Tomas’ second wife) show in certain instances a breaking of the traditional norm. Dona Loreto is very vengeful when found out that Don Tomas had cheated on her and had many children on the side. She had the right to do so however, she would break things, throw things, and insult everyone and everything when seeing Tomas (Urrea, 206). The visits paid to the house of Tomas were also very gruesome. Someone might expect her to act lady like and just sit back while her husband defamed her very soul. Gabriela Cantua was very lady like in the entire novel except when it came time to defend the house and Teresita from the military and people wanting to kill her she was loaded with an arm ready to shoot anyone who walked into the door (Urrea, 441).

            “All these women, Huila thought: Mothers of God. These skinny, these dirty and toothless, these pregnant, shoeless and these littlest ones who faced unknowable tomorrows. Mothers of God.” (Urrea, 92). The powers of women are something heavenly for such creature with fragile hands can cure; give life, fight, and even kill. Traditions will always remain but as the world and minds evolve the barriers and false judgments and expectations upon women as well as men decay slowly.













Works Cited

Urrea, Luis.A. The Hummingbirds Daughter. New York: Little, Brown and   Company, 2006. Print.