La Malinche is one of the most controversial figures in Mexican and Chicano literature. The historical facts about her life before and after the Spanish Conquest are largely speculative. What is reliably known is that she had a significant role as translator, which developed into something of mythic proportions. The ideological appropriation of her image by three authors, Octavio Paz, Laura Esquivel and Cherríe Moraga, are explored in this thesis. The full extent of the proposed rendition of La Malinche by Octavio Paz is the basis of the second chapter. The conclusion drawn by Paz, in The Labyrinth of Solitude (1950) is that La Malinche is what he calls la chingada [the raped/violated one] and proposes that all women are always open to conquest, sexually and otherwise. Laura Esquivel's novel Malinche (2006) is a re-interpretation that focuses on the tongue as the source of power and language as the ultimate source of autonomy for La Malinche. This aspect of La Malinche and the contrast of Paz's understanding are the basis of the third chapter of this thesis. Cherríe Moraga, in Loving in the War Years (1983), proposes that if women are to be traitors, it is not each other that they should betray but their cultural roles as mothers and wives. She writes that in order to avoid being the one who is passively colonized, women often times become el chingón. However, ultimately women are free of these limiting dichotomous roles are able to autonomously define themselves in a way that goes beyond these labels. This is only possible when La Malinche is re-interpreted by these by different authors.
The subaltern is a recurrent literary figure in Mexican narrative. The objective of this thesis is to investigate three ethnic groups – indeed, subalterns – in Mexico which include: Afro-Mexicans, indigenous groups, and Filipino colonial subjects from the perspectives of the Mexican Revolution, post-revolutionary Mexico, and the conquest of the Philippines in the sixteenth century. The principal characters play crucial roles in events shaping the history and culture of Mexico and thus demonstrate their importance to the country's development while also revealing the reality of subalterns. The literary research shows that trying circumstances or a lack of self-identity were the main causes for a character to be or become a subaltern in addition to their inherent ethnic disadvantages. However, the characters who overcame their subaltern state often changed personality traits or adapted to their surroundings in order to be assimilated into the majority culture.