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Garza-Falcon summarizes Webb’s stylistic schemata after breaking down his narrative and analyzing its isolated parts convincingly: The narrative elements and linguistic devices in his romanticizing rhetoric the metaphors, euphemisms, adjectives, juxtapositions, quasi-poetic language, mythopoetic frames, epic bard stratagems all invite the reader’s assent to the ‘truth’ in a peculiar story replete with the images of the ‘rough set’s’ freedom gained at the expense and denigration of others. It is important to isolate these elements, for they reappear in various forms and especially in times of economic hardship to affirm the ‘rightness’ of the domination of a particular group over the ‘others’ who make up our nation’s diverse population…. His rhetorical and narrative strategies arose from a crucial moment, and at that crucial moment they reinforced politically and economically desirable myths, easily transported to our own times. Anglo-American history flourished after the West had been colonized, and the consciousness of the majority was ripe for the codification of its collective myth that persists to this day in public education, popular entertainment, and mass media. Thus, Garza-Falcon’s critique forms a valid and necessary context for understanding a chorus of “polyphonic ‘voices’ still unheard and unrecognized.” The heart of Gente Decente examines the fiction of borderlands women, and none more extensively than that of Jovita Gonzalez and president of the Texas Folklore Society; one of the intelligences of the bilingual education movement spearheaded by her husband, E. E. Mirales; and a novelist who wrote about Mexicano culture in two historical novels \(Dew on the Thorn, unpublished, and Caballero, Gonzalez traces the life of a complex personality negotiating between the two worlds of Anglo society and the Mexicano community, identifying herself as one of the gente decente. But what is the meaning of According to Garza-Falcon, gente decente distinguishes “social rather than economic status in the life of South Texas to this day.” For Gonzalez it meant a heritage of land ownership and elite lineage educated, cultured, proper, and chaste. Paredes characterized Gonzalez as “a young woman traveling alone, acting as an independent professional and at the same time being a traditional model of propriety,” when she had been researching the borderlands for her master’s thesis at the University of Texas \(M.A. 1930; B.A. Our “Given my own South Texas and northern Mexican origin,” writes Garza-Falcon, “I find her depictions of this highly stratified South Texas system suspect; they are the views of someone who aspires to high-class status and ‘imagines’ the rich condescending to the poor…. I believe that rather than from claims to Spanish nobility or inherited class background, dignity in South Texas comes with more down-to-earth, practical concerns….” However, the critic admits, Gonzalez had lived during an earlier era, witnessing “what none of us living today can testify to,” because no matter how “identified today’s scholars of Mexican American literature, culture, and history may be with their `Chicanismo,’ we are all inescapably products of Anglo American dominance.” To whatever extent Gonzalez behaved aristocratically toward the uneducated poor, she broke with her own class on the question of equal education, advocating this enlightened attitude though her fictional characters and, of course, demonstrating through her decades of teaching the belief that all Mexicanos could become gente decente. “Her story of negotiation, the cognitive dissonance of her psychology, so evident in her writings,” states Garza-Falcon, “informs even present-day views of aspiring youth in our educational institutions…. The split in Gonzalez’s intellectual environment, hef aspirations, and the climate of the times demanded that she leave her more blatant outcries against both the Anglo and the Mexican patriarchies and the elitist/racist views about ‘her’ people to future generations….” Garza-Falcon explores the border crossings of Gonzalez’s novels in a detailed analysis that reveals a rich feminist thematics and a subtle cultural awareness. Her central theme of awakening the cultural unconscious to fresh aspects of our nation’s story through the fictional perspectives of the silenced gives texture to the plain, depth to the linear line, coloration to the white noise of historiography. Through these narratives of “otherness,” we begin to hear the chorus of real diversity. Chapter 4 features the explication of a story by Maria Christina Mena and Fermina Guerra’s historical sketches of ranch life on the border. Like Gonzalez, these writers come from the Mexican elite that knew the Anglo elite, but Garza-Falcon contends that this “picturing of their worlds, from their however privileged perspectives, provides a more complex and more complete picture which illuminates the dialectics of today’s Chicano/a struggles.” Mena was born in Mexico City to wealthy parents, but was sent to New York as a teenager when the Mexican Revolution erupted. Her first stories were published when she was just twenty and she became the only woman of Mexican descent to have fiction in the leading U.S. literary magazines during the 1910s and 1920s. Her witty satire, “The Education of Popo,” tells of an encounter between fourteen-year-old Popo Arriola and Alicia Cherry, a pinkskinned, blue-eyed blonde who appears younger and more innocent than she is. In fact, she is a twenty-five-year-old divorce on a trip with her rich U.S. parents as guests of the aristocratic Arriolas in Mexico City. Her flirtation with the love-struck boy is an exercise in vanity that ends when her ex-husband arrives. The surface reads like sophisticated fluff, but it has the subtle irony and critical bite of Dorothy Parker’s earliest social satires. Guerra’s “Rancho Buena Vista, Its Ways of Life and Traditions” was her master’s thesis at the University of Texas, where she stud ied with Dobie a decade after Gonzalez. “But unlike Dobie’s quaint paternalistic portrayal of the Mexicans,” writes Garza-Falcon, “Guerra’ s stories record the hard work and struggles of her people, which can be seen as a parallel to those of Webb’s pioneering settlers.” However, she “does not romanticize or mystify the story of her people and Guerra makes the lives and struggles of women just as important as those of men.” Garza-Falcon’s impassioned reading of Americo Paredes’ historical novel, George Washington G6mez \(which was written between of protest, resistance, and solidarity. This “Mexicotexan Novel” about property, labor, and education, and about the complex lives of real people in the Rio Grande Valley, strikes this reviewer as the most edifying and truthful novel of the borderlands ever written. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 23, 1999