Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Delia’s Song describes the political, sexual, and emotional tensions characterizing America in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Divided into three major sections, Delia’s Song outlines the pain and excitement of this turbulent period through the experiences of its eponymous principal character, Delia, as she emerges from naïveté into a new social and sexual maturity.

The events of Corpi’s first novel are strongly autobiographical, echoing a young Mexican American woman’s quest for literary respect, sexual identity and equality, an academic degree, and a fulfilling love during the political transformations of late-1960’s California. One of the most effective social themes of Delia’s Song is the disturbing reality of sexism as it is experienced in Chicano culture. Delia must struggle against her own family’s limiting attitudes as well as those of her colleagues. Her two brothers, both dead (one shot as a soldier in Vietnam, the other killed by a drug overdose), receive the affections of their mother that Delia desires and deserves. The deepest expression of her struggle for sexual and intellectual identity takes place in herself, as she moves from being an idealistic girl carrying many resentments along with much low self-esteem into a fully developed artist, academic, and partner in love.

The narrative structure suggests a field of awareness rather than a linear, historical sequence of events. Dreams, flashbacks, sprinkles of family history, and memories all interrupt the plot....

(The entire section is 642 words.)