The struggle for independence and principles has been the central point of Rigoberta Menchu’s book. It portrays the exploits of revolutionaries during times of conflict and how their ideas have been transcribed and elaborated by an observer which later turned revolutionary Rigoberta Menchu. In here, lessons can be deciphered and important ideas can be exhausted on how perceptions and feelings are showcased during times of conflict.
One important observation provided in the text by Menchu is the element of family present in such society. It can be argued that this is an important component that defines the identity of characters in the story. Under this context, emphasis is made on how each member has specific roles to fulfill and how these actions are manifested throughout the document. One important example of this was when Rigoberta and his family outlined how she and her family members traveled just to see her brother’s execution (Menchu, 1987).
At the same time, sentiments and feelings in the selection were highlighted and given emphasis to give readers an accurate idea of what transpires in a particular setting. Menchu mentions that “my mother said that when a woman sees her son tortured, burnt alive, she is incapable of forgiving, incapable of getting rid of her hate” (p. 180).
Reacting to this, the memoirs of Mechu highlights the prevalent environment during that time. It showcases the conflicting battles of ideals and principles with an overall agenda in mind; change. It is through these things that characters are aligned to act accordingly and responsively to anything that is given to them.
Likewise, the mention of Menchu’s family clearly indicates how such relationship is deemed important in Guatemalan society. It also elaborates on how these social structure remains to be essential in decision making and honing important values and principles that motivates and moves characters in the story.
Another idea can e seen in the story is the role and transformation of women in Guatemalan society. It can be seen in the book that the constant struggle and conflict brought about renewed and revitalized roles for women. Prior to the escalation of conflict, Menchu mentions that women were given familiar tasks and were limitedly seen in the front and pursuing what they want. However, this has changed during the conflict. Menchu further mentions that “my mother said: “I don’t want to make you stop feeling a woman, but your participation in the struggle must be equal to that of your brothers” (p.213).
From the traditional practice of handling the household and taking care of their husbands, the text showcased an empowerment of women. It showed how women can overcome ‘machismo’ provided that there are changes within societal understanding and practices. Menchu argues that “what she said was that men weren’t to blame for machismo, and women weren’t to blame for machismo but it was part of the whole society” (p.216)
Reacting to this, changes do indeed occur if conflict arises. This does not only operate on what is evident and the factors being fought for. At the same time, perceptions, values and principles are also placed in question as men and women find new ways to better themselves and give out their capabilities to the current environment. The transformations of women in this story clearly showcase how women can be empowered and go beyond what is expected of them and play a huge part in the revolution.
Lastly, as women gain involvement in the conflict, they begin to realize their worth and potential in the overall outcome. This in turn begins a shift from traditional expectations towards revitalizing and gaining new roles that can generate new values, ideas and principles. In the end, these transformations have been proven essential in the overall change in Guatemalan society.
Menchu, R. I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala.1987 (UK; Verso) accessed
4 March 2009. 172-252