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Accounts from Guatemala: Critical Reception of the Works of Rigoberta Menchu - Book Report/Review Example

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Summary
The situation in Guatemala is similar to South Africa, where the black majority is ruled with absolute power by the white minority. Like South Africa, the Indians in Guatemala are lacking in even the most basic of human rights. 'Indeed the so-called forest Indians are being systematically exterminated in the name of progress…
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Accounts from Guatemala: Critical Reception of the Works of Rigoberta Menchu

Download file to see previous pages... The situation in Guatemala is similar to South Africa, where the black majority is ruled with absolute power by the white minority. Like South Africa, the Indians in Guatemala are lacking in even the most basic of human rights. 'Indeed the so-called forest Indians are being systematically exterminated in the name of progress. But unlike the Indian rebels of the past, who wanted to go back to pre-Columbian times, Rigoberta Menchu is not fighting in the name of an idealized or mythical past.' (Menchu xiii) Rigoberta is working toward drawing attention to the plight of native people around the globe.Once an illiterate farm worker, she has taught herself to read and write Spanish, the language of her oppressor, as a means of relating her story to the world. She tells the story of her life with honesty and integrity in hopes of impressing upon the world the indignation of the oppressed. In addition to the Spanish language, Rigoberta borrows such things as the bible and trade union organization in order to use them against their original owners. There is nothing like the bible in her culture. She says, 'The Bible is written, and that gives us one more weapon.' (Menchu xviii) Her people need to base their actions on the laws that come down from the past, on prophecy.Her own history and the history of her family is told with great detail in the book I, Rigoberta Menchu. Not only does one learn about the culture of her people and about the community in which she lives, but an understanding is gained as to impetus to react against ones oppressor. Born the sixth child to an already impoverished but well respected family, Rigoberta remembers growing up in the mountains on land that no one else wanted, spending months at a time going with her family to work on the fincas (plantations).
A lorry owned by the finca would come to their village, and the workers, along with their children and animals, would ride together, in filthy and overcrowded conditions. Each lorry would hold approximately forty people, and the trip to the finca took two nights and one day, with no stops allowed for the bathroom, it is easy to imagine the unsanitary condition that resulted. Each worker would take with them a cup and a plate and a bottle for water when they worked in the fields. The youngest of the children that were not yet able to work had no need for their own cup and plate since, if they did not work, they would not be fed by the finca. These children's mothers would share with them their own ration of tortilla and beans, though many of the children were severely malnourished, and two of Rigoberta's own brothers died while on the finca.
At the tender age of eight Rigoberta was earning money to help her family, and as proof of her own personal fortitude, by age ten she was picking the quotas of an adult and was paid as such. Her first experience in the city was at twelve years old in the capital of Guatemala where she worked as a maid. She retells the story of how when she met the lady of the house, she was told that she needed new clothes, since hers were so worn and dirty from working on the finca, and how she was given a salary advance of two months pay which was to be used for the new clothes.
Remembering back, Rigoberta describes how she was treated, 'The mistress used to watch me all the time and was very nasty to me. She treated me like... I don't know what... not like a dog because she treated the dog well. She used to hug the dog.' (Menchu 94) The first night she recalls being given her dinner the same time that the dog had been fed, she was given a hard tortilla and some beans, while the dog was given 'bits ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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