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Mexican Folk Music: El Corrido Essay

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During the late 19th century and early 20th century, a form of Mexican folk music called the corrido gained popularity along the Mexico-Texan border (Saldívar). Growing from the Spanish romance tradition, the corrido is a border ballad “that arose chronicling the history of border conflicts and its effects on Mexican-Mexican culture” (Saldívar). A sort of “oral folk history,” the corrido was studied intensely by Américo Paredes, who then constructed his masterpiece, George Washington Gomez, around the “context and theme” of the corrido (Mendoza 146). But the novel is not a traditional corrido, in which the legendary hero defends his people and dies for his honor. Instead, through its plot, characterization, and rhetorical devices, George Washington Gomez is an anti-corrido.
The corrido has been identified as having distinctive characteristics that make up its theme and plot. First, the corrido has a “context of hostile relations between Anglos and Mexicans along the border and the establishment of a scenic structure, geographical locale, and opposing social forces” (Mendoza 146). The corrido’s hero “is a hard-working, peace-loving Mexican, who, when goaded by Anglos, outrages into violence, causing him to defend his rights and those of others of his community against the rinches, the Rangers” (Saldívar). This hero “is quickly introduced in legendary proportions and defiant stature” and many people must die before the hero reaches his triumphant, but tragic, demise (Mendoza 146). The Anglos in the corrido, meanwhile, are not one-dimensional villains but “complex figures who contain positive as well as negative qualities” (Mendoza 146). These distinctive traits of a corrido – setting, conflict, and characterization, among others – ...


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...l. “Ge-or-ge,’ she called in an exaggerated Gringo accent. He looked back. Tears were running down her rigid, expressionless face. ‘Cabron!’ she said. ‘Vendido sanavabiche!’” (Paredes 294) In this way, George – no longer Guánlito – has politically and culturally betrayed his people, and “is not is not the tragic hero who has died in defense of his people” (Mendoza 148).
In conclusion, through its plot, characterization, and rhetorical devices such as tone, George Washington Gomez is an anti-corrido. However, it must be said that perhaps in its purpose as an anti-corrido, the novel is a corrido. In telling the story of Guánlito, the anti-hero of the Mexicotexans, perhaps Paredes is singing the readers his own border ballad, an ironic, cautionary tale to the Chicanos to remember who they are and where they came from and to resist, always, as a corrido hero would.



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