Rigoberta Menchu is a narrative of the life of a youthful Guatemalan Quiche Indian lady. It is both an individual and a communal narrative. It is a documentation of the troubles of the Guatemalan people throughout the political fright of a 36-year Civil War that came to an end in 1996. The narrative is said to be an individual one because it gives a view of Menchu's life. Equally, it is said to be communal because Rigoberta's experience is similar to what her community undergo. This quotation clearly shows that it is communal. "I believe that there is still much that can be written about Guatemala, and that can be said about Ms. Menchu and her book, and I believe that it is a good and constructive thing." -Jorge Skinner-Klee. To continue to exist, Menchu's community slot in their uneven skills in opposition to armed antagonists who are set on the entire abolition of a custom that resists them. Life seems to be completely difficult and this is because the people of Guatemala are fighting amongst them.In her narrative, Menchu classifies the people of Guatemala into two groups. These are the people who are good and the people who are bad. The Indians are good while the Ladinos are bad. The Ladinos are the people of Guatemala who do not follow certain Indian culture and customs (Burgos 8-10).
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Menchu is an Indian. However, she worked for the Ladinos but they end up mistreating her. Her entire family was killed. "Her father was burned alive in the Spanish embassy, that she herself had to go into exile while very young, and that her brother was murdered by the military, ah! But not burned alive, just shot." Manuel Vasquez Montalban. This is one of the reasons she supports separation. However, she makes a turn around and now sees unity between the two communities as the best option. "In Guatemala," she says, "the division between Indians and Ladinos has contributed to our situation" (167). Her father, Vincente, helped her see that "the justification for our struggle was to erase all the images imposed on us, all the cultural differences, and the ethnic barriers, so that we Indians might understand each other in spite of different ways of expressing our religion and beliefs" (Burgos 16). Like Martin Luther King she imagines a better life for her people now, not in another imaginary world: after death. This dream will necessitate in Guatemala, as it did in the United States, a reformation of society. She comes to recognize that the obstacle to the realization of peace between the Indians and the Ladinos have kept both groups in a state of repression by the affluent select few who run the country (Burgos 15-18).
One of Menchu's main goals is to safeguard a unified Mayan culture. Menchu traces her culture's past through memory, detailing rituals, customs, and traditions. She presents the Mayan culture with a sense of marvel and anonymity. She talks of candles lit to receive the newborn babies, of festive fiestas at weddings, of the significance of maize, and of respect for the elders of the community. The rituals she describes, alien to the Western mind, bring to mind a sense of admiration and possibly even jealousy in the person who reads (Burgos 8-10). She says, "My name is Rigoberta Menchu. I am twenty-three years old. This is my testimony. I didn't learn it from a book and I didn't learn it alone. I'd like to stress that it's not only my life; it's also the testimony of my people. It's hard for me to remember everything that's happened to me in my life since there have been many very bad times, but, yes, moments of joy as well. The important thing is that what has happened to me has happened to many other people too: My story is the story of all poor Guatemalans. My personal experience is the reality of a whole people" (Burgos 24-26).
In addition to her voice, other sources said: "The world is upside down if it is discussing now whether Rigoberta deserves the prize, when it should be debating whether the prize deserves her. Reality cannot be recorded . . . all writing, all composition, is construction. We do not imitate the world, we construct versions of it. There is no mimesis, only poiesis. No recording. Only construction." This is what Robert Scholes said."I believe that there is still much that can be written about Guatemala, and that can be said about Ms. Menchu and her book, and I believe that it is a good and constructive thing (Burgos 25).
The matter at risk for Menchu's society is the right of the native people of Guatemala to live their lives in the way that suits them best. This without doubt would be life free of tyranny and mistreatment. Consequently, they would be at liberty to do what is best for them. There comes a time when Menchu talks of other cultures and customs only to express disapproval of them for their wickedness. But of interest, is the fact that she has a double perception. She is very much both a Mayan and citizen of the entire human race; the speaker of her indigenous Quiche tongue in addition to Spanish. Spanish is the tongue of colonization. What she is afraid of is that the European culture will break up, damage, and wipe out her culture and custom. On the other hand, she is gaining the knowledge of using what she can from a foreign customs to be of assistance to her people (Burgos 20-22).
In the process of rebuilding the society, a lot of tragedies happen. It has been the history of development that such rebuilding is bought with blood. Menchu explains in shocking aspect the murders of her brother, father, and mother at the hands of the Guatemalan Army. Menchu is against the Guatemalan government's employment of weaponry to compel and scare the native community of Guatemala. She takes such action to be a mere assault, not only on the physical life of her society, but also on their principles and their fundamental human right to live as they may be willing to (Burgos 10-12).
In conclusion realizing the futility of peaceful opposition, Menchu and her family take up weapons and unite with the opposition groups to fight the Army of Guatemala. Owing to the nature of the clash, Rigoberta Menchu is not only a customary text. The text is in addition a political one. Her voice decries an undeserved Civil War and asserts the right of a custom to be present in a superior, universal society. As an individual who came through a brutal past, Menchu now anticipates the upcoming. She brings into the knowledge of the people the importance of a better future. In Paris on behalf of the 31 January Front in 1982, Menchu gave her testimony to acquire help and support for the exploited community of Guatemala. The influence of Menchu's voice is apparent in the reply her testimony aggravated (Burgos 15-18).
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