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History 126
Home » People » Dr. Carlos A. Contreras » History 126 » Song of the Hummingbird

Song of the Hummingbird

Song of the Hummingbird by Graciela Limón-  Study Guide- Contreras
Journal Entry #_   (counts as both participation and journal grades)


Some themes that the novel deals with:  

  • Clash of cultures
  • Tributes
  • War
  • Religions, the “Spiritual Conquest” of Latin America, and the subsequent fusion of Christianity and Native religions
  • The writing and re-writing of history.  What difference does it make who tells the stories?
  • Malinche (Malintzin; Doña Marina) and the concept of “betrayal”
  • Omens


Your thoughtful responses to the following questions.  For each, try to transcend the novel to the extent that you can and place the issues into historical perspective.


1)  How was Huitzitzilín, as a native woman, different from what Father Benito’s teachers in Spain had taught him?  (21ff)



2)  How do the Spanish priests view the native people’s religion?  (59ff)



3)  What is the significance of the scene in which two Indian boys who are prodding a donkey greet Father Benito?  (82-83)



4)  How does Huitzitzilín view the Tlaxcalteca (people from Tlaxcala)  (103ff)



5)  On p’s 126, 127 there is a conversation between Fathers Anselmo and Benito about the description of a ceremony?  What does this tell us about the writing and the rewriting of history? 



6) From pages 132 to 135, what is the significance of the exchange where Father Benito ultimately tells Huitzitzilín:  “Señora, why would anyone want to distort the truth?  What gain would come of it?”



7) By page 138, Father Benito no longer sees the chronicles as he once had.  What is this about?



8)  To what factor do the Spanish attribute their final defeat of the Mexíca?  What factors does Huitzitzilín argue were most important?  (146ff)



9)  On page 148 there is an exchange between Father Benito and Huitzitzilín about the personal versus the historical.  What is it?  Why is it important?



10)  How does Huitzitzilín and other natives view mestizos (children of Spanish and Native parents)?  (161ff)



11)  How does Huitzitzilín view the people of southern Mexico and Central America?  (164ff)



12)  Who does Baltazar marry?  What does his household look like?  (179ff)



13)  As Father Benito writes in his chronicle, what does he consider to be historical, and conversely, not historical?  (181ff)  What does this tell us about the writing of history and the images we come to have of it? 



14)  How does Huitzitzilín describe Baltazar’s wife?  (pp. 185ff)



 15)  What was Tenochtitlan like before the Spaniards arrived?  What has it become?  (177ff, 208ff)




16)  Has Huitzitzilín accepted Catholicism? (p. 210) Discuss the issue of religious conversion in this novel.




17)  Throughout the novel, Huitzitzilín asks Father Benito “will you forgive me?”  What does she mean by this?  (217)



18)  Discuss any other important issue the novel raises that I did not ask you about.

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