Monday, March 19th, 2012...2:38 am

19. Tyrant and Slave

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“I owned the land as far as the eye

could see under the crown of Spain,

and I toiled on my earth

and gave my Indian sweat and blood

               for the Spanish master

who ruled with tyranny over man and

beast and all that he could trample.

                                                        BUT . . .

            THE GROUND WAS MINE.

I was both tyrant and slave” (Gonzales 789)

In this quote from ” I Am Joaquín,” Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales expresses this tension between two identities of “tryant and slave.”  The speaker states “I owned the land” and continues to state, ” I toiled on my earth.” Clearly there is a juxtaposition of “working” and “owning,” which highlights the different identities of tyrant and slave.  He also states ” I gave my Indian sweat and blood.” Again, this self-description as an Indian slave contradicts the prior self-description of a land-owner “under the crown of Spain” (the tyrant).  The speaker clearly is stuck between two identities. This ambivalent identities mirrors the ambivalent identities of the Chicanos and other immigrant who are stuck between their native culture and American culture. There is also this constant notion of the land belonging to the speaker; he states, “THE GROUND WAS MINE” and  “I toiled on my earth.” I think this sense of ownership is connected to the symbol of Aztlan and the notion of regaining the land that once belonged to Mexicans that the Americans now claim ownership over. According to the speaker, the land belongs to the tyrant and the slave, not America.

 

 

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