Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, to Argentine exiles, Florencio Sánchez was brought up in a poverty that made him closely acquainted with an emerging working class that flooded such major Latin American cities as Montevideo and Buenos Aires before World War I. Himself the child of immigrants, Sánchez showed a marked interest in the migration of thousands of foreigners to the cities. In The Foreign Girl, he shows the animosity and discomfort of the local population, especially the local peasant class, who felt displaced by an aggressive foreign working class.
The Foreign Girl also raises another important issue: What local traditions should be preserved despite the tremendous changes experienced in the area as the result of worldwide technological advances? Sánchez answers this question in the various types of characters he uses to define the social groups involved in the controversy.
As a newspaper reporter, Sánchez became an indefatigable traveler, which allowed him to witness local traditions representing the Argentine identity. Since much of that local folklore belonged to the lower social groups, he also got to know intimately the problems faced by those marginalized classes. Sánchez’s characters represent genuine types of people, and his play The Foreign Girl is a realistic portrayal of life at the turn of the century. In fact, Sánchez’s total production could be labeled a reliable reproduction of rural life in the outskirts of Southern Cone urban centers.
The Foreign Girl’s main character, Victoria, represents the new Argentine of the twentieth century: a first-generation country girl of Italian parents. Her derogatory nickname, Gringa, reflects local animosity against foreigners. In the play, Victoria has the positive, sympathetic role of a hardworking young woman, who is well liked in the neighborhood because of her kindness and consideration toward all around her, including her Argentine neighbors. She considers herself an...
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