The Representation of the Jíbara in When I was Puerto Rican and Con valor y como dé lugar: Memorias de una jíbara puertorriqueña
Jennet Rodríguez Betancourt
Universidad del Turabo, Gurabo, Puerto Rico
This work offers an overview of the representation of the Puerto Rican jíbara in the autobiographical texts of two Puerto Rican women writers: When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago and Con Valor y Como Dé Lugar: Memorias de Una Jíbara Puertorriqueña by Carmen Luisa Justiniano. It examines the Puerto Rican literary landscape from the nineteenth-century to the mid-twentieth-century in which the legendary figure of the country-dweller or jíbaro has been present. Using Gaytri Chakravorty Spivak’s powerful essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (1988), as a source of theoretical departure provokes an inquiry of the Puerto Rican literary elite’s appropriation and construction of the native subaltern peasant since more than often, the others’ voices are displaced and replaced with their own somewhat compassionate, nonetheless observers’ privileged voices.
Puerto Rican literature is full of jíbaro characters that have chiefly been portrayed according to the interests of privileged male authors that often stereotype the jíbaro’s true existence; subsequently, constructing two very distinct and conflicting views. Even more so, the jíbara discourse has been hugely silenced, underrepresented, or misrepresented altogether and it has primarily been portrayed in relation to the jíbaro or other male characters. Meanwhile while filling significant historical gaps, these two Puerto Rican writers not only choose to call themselves jíbaras, but license the jíbara as the subject of their real-life narrations; thus, disclosing and recovering significant stories about the many layers of bold jíbaras puertorriqueñas from a remarkable subaltern female lens.
ISBN 9783862887699. LINCOM Studies in Language and Culture 05. 113pp. 2017.