(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Naked Ladies, Alma Luz Villanueva’s second novel, explores four women’s struggle for identity and survival within the confines of their racially biased and male dominated culture. The novel’s title, taken from the name of a Northern California wildflower, symbolizes these four women’s exuberant spirit of resilience and their unwavering determination to defy all threats of domination and destruction.

Alta, the novel’s main character, and her friends, Katie, Rita, and Jackie, live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite differences in ethnic and class backgrounds, their lives have in common the struggles of child-rearing, homemaking, working, and obtaining an education. Their struggles are often aggravated by an array of problems, such as alcoholism, violence, infidelity, rape, incest, cancer, and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). To prevent her family from falling apart, Alta tries everything she can to endure and change the abusive behavior of her husband, Hugh, to whom she was married at the age of fifteen. She blames herself for all the miseries and pains in her life because she feels inferior and ashamed of being a Mexican American woman. What devastates her most is Hugh’s confession that he has contracted AIDS from an old man with whom he has been having a homosexual affair since the age of seventeen.

Like Alta, her friends have serious battles to wage. In their persistent struggle to survive, Alta and her...

(The entire section is 419 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Wheatwind, Marie-Elise. “Naked Ladies” Review of Naked Ladies, by Alma Luz Villanueva. The Women’s Review of Books 11, no. 8 (May, 1994): 25.