First Advisor

Cynthia Sloan

Term of Graduation

Winter 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Spanish


Foreign Languages




Ángeles Mastretta (1949- ). Arráncame la vida, Feminism and literature, Women in literature



Physical Description

1 online resource (87 pages)


With this research I locate Angeles Mastretta's novel Arráncame la vida in the Bildungsroman genre, examine the particular forces influencing the protagonist's development and gain insight into her process of identity formation. This modern Bildungsroman portrays the fate of a woman in the male dominated world of post-revolutionary Mexico. I analyze how class, gender, historical moment, psychological and cultural influences are woven into the intriguing formation of the heroine, Catalina, variously constraining or propelling her forward in her quest for development.

I argue that the heroine transcends the limiting factors in her patriarchal environment, struggling against culturally sanctioned deception, confining gender roles and the underlying machismo organizing it. Despite these currents and ostensibly subservient position of Catalina, I observe a shift in the relative and absolute power between her and her husband, Andrés, during the course of the novel. Andrés' characteristics and ultimately self-defeating behavior parallel changes in the larger social-historical context. Catalina creates space to develop, using strategies and icons borrowed from both the male and female realm. Often she seeks truth rather than social accommodation. My critical model emphasizes how this combined with her emerging values of love, compassion and cooperation creates a nascent sense of self in Catalina, emphasized in the open ending of the novel.

The central premise of a Bildungsroman that individuals develop in response to their environment is affirmed in the emergence of Catalina's strong, coherent personality by the novel's end. She represents a symbol of hope for all people involved in a struggle for self-definition and self-determination.


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