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“I am Joaquin” by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales Essay

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Updated: Oct 15th, 2021

The poem “I am Joaquin”, written by Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales portrays the strong feelings of the fighter Joaquin, who narrates his experiences while he was struggling for the freedom pf his own land, his people from the clutches of the foreign conquerors. The fighter Joaquin says that he is confused, stuck and caught between the American societies, their rules, and their attitude. Their manipulations were suppressing Joaquin big time. He tells that his forefathers and fathers were economically very weak, did not have enough so as to survive. But, they surely were successful in keeping their cultural flag rising high, in spite of all their hardships.

The narrator is in a fix whether to join the Americans, where the financial situation is good and people there pay good attention towards hygiene and cleanliness. Their culture is beckoning Joaquin to blend himself with their way of living. Joaquin worked hard, struggled to his best, but landed nowhere. He suffered, cried, mourned, and found peace and tranquility among his folk, his own people. He found life among them. He was dragged by progress to practically nowhere.

Joaquin compares himself, rather self impersonates as Cuauhtemoc, who was an Aztec ruler. The name means one who descends like an eagle, or in English it means- Falling Eagle. Cuauhtemoc was a proud and noble rule, who also fought for the rights of his people. He calls himself more civilized than the Gachupins or the Spaniards. It is used in a derogatory sense here. Gachupin is basically an amalgamation of various ethnic groups.

The poem is mainly inclined towards the Chicano movement, which wanted to blend with the U.S. and also at the same time, guarding their culture for future generations. Next, he compares himself with the Nezahualcoyotl, which means a coyote who fasts. He was a ruler in pre-Columbian Mexico. He was not Mexican, but his people were called Acolhua. Joaquin, besides calling himself all this, along with being the eagle and serpent of the Aztec civilization.

According to him, he gave his faithful services to the Spanish master. He shed his sweat and blood for him. But despite all this, he claims that the land was his, he was the master of that ground. He calls himself both a tyrant and a slave.

As the Christian church taught all men, the Spaniards, the Mexicans and the Indians, that they were one and that they were all god’s children, still they fought among themselves for land and wealth and most importantly, freedom. In 1810, a priest named Hidalgo existed. He carried out the independence movement. Joaquin led him to the revolution and confesses that he killed him. The Morelos, Matamoros, the Gurreros were all a part of the act. All stood against that disgrace, that scandal. Joaquin’s soul aim was to make his country free. His country was free in 1821 from the Spanish rule. Mexico was finally free.

Although the crown no longer existed, but the people who lived in the country like parasites, ruled and taught in the same land. Joaquin prayed, fought, worked, sweated, bled and waited silently for life to start again. Joaquin fought and died for Don Benito Juarez. He guarded the constitution. Joaquin guarded his city just the way Don Benito guarded the constitution, as he guarded his collection, just like Moses guarded his mass, his sacraments. Sacraments is a rite in which god is uniquely inactive. Don, as narrated by Joaquin, held his Mexico in his hands, with very great care. He made sure that he never gave even a small part of his land to kings, monarchs, presidents or foreign powers.

Similarly, Joaquin talks about Doroteo Arango, who was a Mexican revolutionary general. Joaquin also fought with Doroteo, comparing himself with a tornado; which uproots everything that comes in its way. He was filled with the passion and fire in order to free his people. He also says that he is Emilio Zapata. He said that the land, the earth was his and his people. The village, the mountains belonged to the Zapatistas. According to him, his and everyone else’s life could be only for the soft brown earth, i.e. land and maize, i.e. food, which fed his people. According to him, there was this dogma, this belief that formed a constitution for all who dared to live as free citizens.

He addresses god saying that the land was theirs and he gives it back to his father high above. He said that Mexico must be free.

He says that he is rural, coarse and brutal. He fought and rode with revolutionists. He says that he himself was the revolution. He says that he shares the pain of the women who lost their lives in the battle for independence. He killed all those who killed, raped his wife. He rode all over the mountains with various revolutionists. He also killed others to stay alive and fight for his country.

Hidalgo, Zapata, Murrietta, Espinozas and many more were a few revolutionaries and fighters who dared to face those who ruled on their land and misbehaved with their people.

The Indian emerged as the winner and endured. Joaquin has shed a lot of blood. Although he was tried in the court of law for all the people he had killed, he still was full of pride and arrogance.

He blames the American society, which adulterated his culture and changed their language. They influenced his tradition in every possible way. Joaquin calls himself the foundation of brotherhood and nature. He says that the Corridos tell the tales of life and death, of tradition, Legends old and new, of Joy, of passion and sorrow of the people. He says that the women of his country remember him in their prayers. He shares their feelings and troubles. He is sympathetic with them. He wants to fight so that his sons know him for who he was. He has survived every possible hurdle, slavery and toil. Hispanics, a driving and growing force in contemporary America, demand and deserve recognition (Werner Ohly, pp. 78-83).

Hispanics, a scattered group comprising many nationalities: Mexican-Americans in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, Cubans in Florida, Puerto Ricans in New York,…, show much of a common identity in terms of language, religion, family structure, social and cultural life (Cf. Time, 1989, p. 50f.). Joaquin says that he possesses a strong spirit, which can cross any hurdle; any obstacle and can fight any man. He also calls himself an Aztec prince and a Christian Christ. Finally, he pledges that he will endure; he will prevail, come what may because he is a fighter and a true soldier.

Works cited

  1. Cf. Time, 1989.
  2. Werner Ohly. 1998.
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