Chicano Satire: A Study in Literary Culture

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Geographically close to Mexico, but surrounded by Anglo-American culture in the United States, Chicanos experience many cultural tensions and contradictions. Their lifeways are no longer identical with Mexican norms, nor are they fully assimilated to Anglo-American patterns. Coping with these tensions-knowing how much to let go of, how much to keep-is a common concern of Chicano writers, who frequently use satire as a means of testing norms and deviations from acceptable community standards. In this groundbreaking study, Guillermo Hernandez focuses on the uses of satire in the works of three authors-Luis Valdez, Rolando Hinojosa, and Jose Montoya-and on the larger context of Chicano culture in which satire operates. Hernandez looks specifically at the figures of the pocho (the assimilated Chicano) and the pachuco (the zoot-suiter, or urbanized youth). He shows how changes in their literary treatment-from simple ridicule to more understanding and respect-reflect the culture's changes in attitude toward the process of assimilation. Hernandez also offers many important insights into the process of cultural definition that engaged Chicano writers during the 1960s and 1970s. He shows how the writers imaginatively and syncretically formed new norms for the Chicano experience, based on elements from both Mexican and United States culture but congruent with the historical reality of Chicanos. With its emphasis on culture change and creation, Chicano Satire will be of interest across a range of human sciences.