Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Guadalupe. Small agrarian New Mexico community in which the central character, Clemente Chávez, is spiritually connected to his land: “His soul and his heart were in the earth.” His family have lived on this same land for generations, so it is literally the “roots of his soul.” As he is leaving his homeland, Clemente represents a problem that all Mexican Americans face when they leave their land in search of better economic opportunities in the cities: Without the land the relationship man created with the earth would be lost, old customs and traditions would fall by the wayside, and the people would be like wandering gypsies without a homeland where they might anchor their spirit.

Clemente’s family not only leaves the physical land behind, they leave their spiritual connection behind them, too, and this loss will create enormous conflict in their lives. To ameliorate their feelings of being uprooted, they make a symbolic attempt to take the land with them by filling a coffee can with rich dirt from their garden.


*Albuquerque. New Mexico’s largest city, the setting in which the novel’s main action occurs. After leaving their home in Guadalupe, the Chávezes make their home in the Barelas barrio in downtown Albuquerque. This city is literally and figuratively “in a new time and in a new place.” In this communal environment, the family at first feels accepted through the...

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Heart of Aztlán Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Alurista. “Myth, Identity and Struggle in Three Chicano Novels: Aztlán . . . Anaya, Méndez and Acosta.” In Aztlán: Essays on the Chicano Homeland, edited by Rudolfo A. Anaya and Francisco A. Lomelí. Albuquerque: Academia/El Norte Publications, 1989. Sketches three versions of the myth of Aztlán. Demonstrates the influence of Mexican and Chicano versions of the myth on Heart of Aztlán.

Candelaria, Cordelia. “Rudolfo A. Anaya.” In Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 82. Chicano Writers. Edited by Francisco A. Lomelí and Carl R. Shirley. Detroit: Gale Research, 1982. A somewhat harsh survey of Anaya’s works. Discusses oppressive nature of technology, religion, and capitalism on the Chicano community of Heart of Aztlán.

Lamadrid, Enrique. “The Dynamics of Myth in the Creative Vision of Rudolfo Anaya.” In Pasó por aquí: Critical Essays on the New Mexican Literary Tradition, 1542-1988, edited by Erlinda Gonzales-Berry. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989. Compares myth in Bless Me, Ultima as a way of understanding the world versus myth in Heart of Aztlán as a way of changing the world.

Márquez, Antonio. “The Achievement of Rudolfo A. Anaya.” In The Magic of Words: Ru-dolfo A. Anaya and His Writings, edited by Paul Vasallo. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982. Thorough discussion of the trilogy and its critical reception.

Pina, Michael. “The Archaic, Historical and Mythicized Dimensions of Aztlán.” In Aztlán: Essays on the Chicano Homeland, edited by Rudolfo A. Anaya and Francisco A. Lomelí. Albuquerque: Academia/El Norte Publications, 1989. Excellent introduction to the history and meaning of the myth of Aztlán, its importance to Chicano nationalism, and its use in Heart of Aztlán.