Books and Movies Reviews

Under the Feet Of Jesus

In Helena Maria Viramontes', “Under the Feet of Jesus”, historical factors play an integral role in depicting life as a migrant laborer. Capitalism, colonialism, racialization, as well as exploitation are a few of the forces that prove to be important in mediating the political, social, and cultural conditions of Mexican Immigrant labor. In the case of “Under the Feet of Jesus”, those conditions are portrayed through the struggles of Estrella and her migrant family.
The effects of colonialism are seen at work in Viramontes' novel. Just as the indigenous tribes of Mexico were marginalized by the Spanish, Estrella and the rest of the field laborers were being marginalized by America. After the Great Depression struck, millions of Americans were left unemployed with no source of income to sustain themselves, or their family. Politically and socially, Mexican laborers were targeted as the problem and they began to be viewed as an infestation, an infestation of aliens whom were taking American jobs from American people. Due to the pressures of unemployment the United States government began the process of repatriation. Repatriation, resulted in thousands of Mexican-Americans being deported, among those departed were US born Mexicans. Throughout the novel, Estrella expresses her fear of being sent back home to her native country. Estrella’s fears of being harassed or deported also point to her racialized status even though a citizen of the United States, she is labeled as an alien. Estrellas fears are addressed by Petra one night:
“If they stop you, if they try to pull you into the green vans, you tell them the birth certificates are under the feet of Jesus, just tell them…Tell them que tienes una madre aqui. You are not an orphan, and she pointed a red finger to the earth, Aqui.” (Viramontes 63)
The same fears that repatriation instilled in Estrella are the same fears that were felt by other field workers in the 1930&…


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