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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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2. Exploring Borders   

2. Exploring

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•  Using the Video
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

Americo Paredes - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: What is a corrido? Why do you think the story of Gregorio Cortez was such a popular subject for ballads?

  2. Comprehension: What different names does the protagonist of George Washington Gomez go by? What is the significance of each name? When does he adopt different names in different situations?

  3. Context: How does Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands both borrow from and challenge Paredes's definition of Mexican American mestizo identity? How does her description of the obstacles and prejudices that Chicana women face compare to Paredes's narrative of the obstacles and prejudices faced by a Chicano man like George Washington Gomez?

  4. Context: Compare the vision of American masculinity as presented in corridos such as "The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez" with that presented in the narratives of Spanish and British colonial authors such as Cabeza de Vaca, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, and John Smith. What attributes do these men share? In what ways do the corridos present a new or different notion of American manhood?

  5. Context: Gloria Anzaldúa calls the border "una herida abierta," or, "an open wound." What is Paredes's implicit or explicit definition of the border? Do he and Anzaldúa agree on the experience of border life?

  6. Exploration: Why do you think an "outlaw" figure like Gregorio Cortez became a folk hero in the border region? Can you think of similar rebel or outlaw contemporary figures who have acquired hero status? If so, in what contexts are they celebrated? Among what groups? When is rebellion against authority perceived as acceptable and even heroic?

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