Tear This Heart Out
A precursory reading of the novel Tear This Heart Out by Angeles Mastretta leads the reader to believe that the tale is one of the lovelorn Catalina Guzman who marries to young to know what is best for her. The daughter of a poor Mexican family Guzman is courted and married to General Andres Ascencsio, a man twenty years her senior. While the novel carefully chronicles the ups and downs of the marriage, it is also reflective of the problems that existed in Mexico after the revolution. Thus, while it is clear that Guzman’s relationship with Ascencsio serves as the basis for most of the action that takes place in the novel, it also serves as a mechanism for the reader to understand what when wrong during the revolution.
Looking more critically at the novel, it is clear that the first several chapters a devoted to providing a background to understanding the life of many Mexicans after the revolution. Theses expository chapters reveal the extent of women’s subordination within the context of social function and further develop the characters of both Guzman and Ascencsio. Considering the issue of how women were treated, Guzman notes that at the age of fifteen she has already stopped going to school as “hardly any girls went to school after the first six years” . Further, Guzman notes that the oppression and subordination of women has been ingrained into the social discourse of Mexican women. Considering her cooking teacher’s response to food preparation, it becomes clear that women in Mexican society have a specified role: “Women re responsible for seeing that food gets prepared in this world…”.
The attitudes of society toward women aside, the real challenges set forth in the marriage of Ascencsio and Guzman arise after Ascencsio is elected governor of Mexico. While Guzman notes that the experience is “fun” at first, she soon realizes that her husband is nothing more than a politician—lying to the faces of his constituents while craftily plotting his own rise to wealth and power. His lying landed him in so much trouble that at one of his rallies those that came to hear his speech burned the stands down. For Guzman, Ascencsio’s lies were difficult to understand and even more difficult to accept.