This essay argues that Tomás Rivera’s seminal Chicano text . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra is a polyvocal and deeply communal work whose formal inventiveness illuminates the imaginative lives of migrant workers. Contesting the dominant critical reading of the book as an allegorical treatment of political consciousness and its development, the essay contends that a close reading of the novel’s narrative framework, as well as its emphasis on listening and memory, suggests that important aesthetic and political considerations need not be precisely tied to allegory in order to create a communal text. Ultimately, the essay argues that the literary can help illuminate the workings of ethnic identity by exploring new forms for imagining community belonging.
Communal Imagination and the Problem of Allegory in Tomás Rivera’s . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra
Francisco E. Robles is assistant professor of English, Latino studies, and gender studies at the University of Notre Dame. His work has appeared in Latino Studies, MELUS, Post45: Peer Reviewed, Post45: Contemporaries, sxsalon, Killing the Buddha, Journal of Popular Music Studies, and in the collection Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities. His current book project, “Migrant Modes,” examines literary and musical representations of migrants and their associated political organizations in the United States from the 1930s into the 1980s.
Francisco E. Robles; Communal Imagination and the Problem of Allegory in Tomás Rivera’s . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 March 2022; 68 (1): 53–74. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-9668897
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