The Mixquiahuala Letters

by Ana Castillo

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Last Updated September 6, 2023.

We needled, stabbed, manipulated, cut, and through it all we loved, driven to see the other improved in her own reflection.

This quote, at the end of Letter Three from Teresa’s perspective, describes how she and Alicia treated each other whenever they visited. Because they were so different in personality, each woman tried to better her friend by calling out her weaknesses and cajoling her into changing her ways. This critical, somewhat combative nature of the relationship means it was stressful and tumultuous, but it also reveals the fierce passion between them. Intense friendships such as this often have the most impact, and this is no exception for Teresa and Alicia. This quote is significant because it establishes for the reader that their friendship is one based on a desire to for mutual improvement, by whatever means necessary.

In Letter Thirty-One, Teresa finally musters the courage to tell Alicia about the devastating trauma of her unwanted abortion—a procedure she completed because the child’s father wanted her to.

“i am better now, my querida Alicia. i had to tell you this because i owed you an explanation for my distance, because i trust you, and i know, no matter what, you have believed in me.”

This quote reveals the depth of Teresa’s love for Alicia. Despite her flaws and mistakes, Teresa feels accepted in Alicia’s eyes, and she knows that she can count on Alicia to support her no matter what. Teresa’s ability to be vulnerable within their friendship indicates the security of their bond. This quote shows that Alicia’s role in Teresa’s identity development is that of an encourager.

The two women do drift apart toward the end of the twenties, due to a series of disastrous life events and the strain of cross-country communication. The following quote from Letter Thirty-Seven conveys Teresa’s desperate need to make peace with the past and reconnect with her dearest friend:

“i want to take my ghosts, Alicia, confront them face to face . . . Maybe we can plan a visit . . . i want to talk with you again.”

This quote captures how much Alicia means to Teresa. Without her, Teresa feels as though a part of her is missing, and she yearns for the special connection with Alicia that no one has ever been able to replicate for Teresa. While they may have drifted apart, they still need to be a part of each other’s lives.

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