Для цитирования:

Бронич М.К., Баранова М.И. Концепция карнавала М. Бахтина в романах Роландо Инохосы // Studia Litterarum. 2021. Т. 6, № 1. С. 152–169.


Автор: М.К. Бронич
Сведения об авторе:

Марина Карповна Бронич — доктор филологических наук, профессор, Нижегородский государственный лингвистический университет, ул. Минина, д. 31 а, 603155 г. Нижний Новгород, Россия.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1231-6689

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Автор 2: М.И. Баранова
Сведения об авторе 2:

Мария Игоревна Баранова — аспирант, ассистент, Нижегородский государственный лингвистический университет, ул. Минина, д. 31 а, 603155 г. Нижний Новгород, Россия.

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Дата поступления: 01 июня 2020 г.
Дата публикации: 25 марта 2021 г.
Номер журнала: 2021 Том 6, №1
Рубрика: Мировая литература
Страницы: 152-169


Индекс УДК: 821(72).0
Индекс ББК: 83.3(7Сое)6 + 83
Ключевые слова: Роландо Инохоса, Бахтин, карнавализация, карнавал, чиканос, мексикано-американская литература.


Статья посвящена исследованию романов писателя-чикано Роландо Инохосы Klail City и The Valley, рассказывающих о жизни мексикано- американской общины в XX в., в рамках теории карнавализации. Анализ опирается на теорию карнавала М.М. Бахтина. Изучение карнавальных фигур и рассмотрение приемов, создающих образ бесконечного праздника, показали всепроникающий характер карнавализации в раннем творчестве писателя. Художественный мир Инохосы существует по правилам карнавала, жизнь общины чиканос построена вокруг городской площади, где травестируются религиозные обряды, проводятся типичные карнавальные ритуалы: праздник глупцов, выборы и развенчивание короля, принесение в жертву городского шута и пиршества. Анализ творчества Инохосы в рамках теории карнавализации Бахтина позволил объяснить идейно-смысловую сторону цикла писателя Klail City Death Trip Series через народно-пиршественные образы и различные проявления материально-телесного низа как торжество жизни над смертью. Макабрический смех мексикано-американской общины, по замыслу писателя, призван победить смерть и страх.

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In their paper on Chicano humor José R. Reyna and María Herrera-Sobek, building upon the ideas of other studies, argue that in the middle of the twentieth century “jokes not only had supplanted the traditional folktale as the most popular
prose narrative genre among Chicanos, but also have become the most popular
genre altogether” [13, p. 203]. Studying Chicano literature today, we therefore
cannot ignore the humor inherent to Chicano culture and literature. The unique
Chicano humor clearly has dual Mexican-American roots. Octavio Paz explains
the difference between Mexicans and Americans in the following words: “Ellos
son crédulos, nosotros creyentes <…> Los mexicanos son desconfiados, ellos abiertos. Nosotros somos tristes y sarcásticos, ellos alegres y humorísticos” [11, p. 2].
According to the poet, Americans are eager to believe, Mexicans are believers <…> Mexicans are suspicious, Americans are open. Mexicans are sad and
sarcastic, while Americans are cheerful and humorous.
Today, Chicano humor attracts the interest of many scholars: José R. Reyna and María Herrera-Sobek, Jennifer Alvarez Dickinson, Guillermo Hernandez,
José Angel Gutiérrez, Carl Gutiérrez-Jones, among others. In this context, a discussion of Rolando Hinojosa’s polyphonic novels appears relevant and revealing
as his works are not only canonical for Chicano literature, but also offer vast material for exploring Chicano humor.
Rolando Hinojosa-Smith (1929–) is a Mexican-American writer, one of
the founding fathers of Chicano literature, a winner of literary awards the Quinto
Sol Awards and Casa de las Américas Prize, the author of Klail City Death Trip
Series (KCDTS), which comprises fifteen volumes linked by recurrent characters,
repetition of themes, scenes and retelling of historical events. Hinojosa calls the
Series “cronicón” since his novels deal with the life of Mexican-American com-
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
munity on the Texas-Mexico border in the fictional county of Belken from the
middle of the 18th century till the present day. KCDTS is a multigeneric series
which encompasses detective fiction, a short novel in verse, an epistolary novel, a
Bildungsroman and estampas, to name a few. Although each of his books can be
read separately and independently, Hinojosa’s fragmented novels are intertwined,
each novel complementing another installment of the Series. The narrative of the
sequence develops chronologically, but still relies heavily on frequent retrospection. Hinojosa´s stories are mainly narrated from the point of view of two main
characters, Rafe (or Rafa) Buenrostro and Jehú Malacara. Being adults, Rafe and
Jehú reconstruct the past, the history of their community by remembering their
childhood and communicating with other members of the community.
Nicolás Kanellos explains Hinojosa’s contribution to Chicano literature in
the preface to The Valley / Estampas del Valle as follows: “One of the three foundational works of Chicano fiction, having won the Quinto Sol Awards that forever designated Rolando Hinojosa’s Estampas del Valle (1973), along with Tomás
Rivera’s… y no se lo tragó la tierra (1971) and Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless me, Ultima
(1972), as the models for the nascent literary movement that would inspire and
guide hundreds of Mexican-American and other Latino narrators for at least the
next forty years. <…> The Valley / Estampas del Valle, along with the first novels by
Tomás Rivera and Rodolfo Anaya, constitute what the Quinto Sol editors hoped
would be the basis for a Chicano literary canon, a bulwark for the creation of a
Chicano cultural nationalism” [8, p. 5].
Chicano humor, without doubt, has originated mostly from Mexican humor. Investigating the sources of Mexican humor in her book, Martha Elena Munguía Zatarain observes that Mexican literature is based on chiaroscuro, somewhere
in between tragedy and roar of laughter, solemnity and festivity, so that laughter,
being an essential part of Mexican culture and literature, goes hand in hand with
tragedy. Consequently, she comes to the conclusion that the principal characteristic of Mexican humor is melancholy, adding that humor serves as a mask against all
the difficulties Mexican people face in their everyday life [10, p. 4].
Juan Bruce-Novoa suggests that Hinojosa’s “ironic and subtle humorˮ
comes from the Hispanic tradition [3, p. 104]. It is true since in his books we
can find components of Mexican “laughter,” identified by Martha Elena Munguía
Zatarain, such as sarcasm, grotesque, parody, sometimes even Mexican didactic
tendency, represented by colloquial oral language.
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
At the same time, it is important to note that Hinojosa’s humor seems
to bear a Faulknerian tinge, which is not surprising as Hinojosa expressed his
admiration for Faulkner many times in his interviews. In Hinojosa’s novels, we
witness the same techniques employed by his predecessor, ranging from verbal
games based on speech errors and peculiarities of pronunciation to grotesque
characters and unpredictable conflict resolutions. One of the distinctive features
of Faulkner’s style is democratism that allows nearly all characters to be involved
in comic and humorous situations regardless of their social status, age or gender.
Hinojosa adheres to the same strategy, making a multitude of voices heard. He
tries to convey the oral culture of Mexican-Americans or their “popular” language
with its humor callejero (street humor) that merges the tragic with the comic. This
allows Hinojosa to reveal the contradictory inner world of an individual juxtaposed against the controversies of the American South that stem both from the
historical past and the social conflicts of the present.
Various scholars highlighted the everyday ironic, sometimes melancholic,
sometimes tragic, folk humor of Hinojosa’s novels. For instance, describing Hinojosa’s early works, Joyce Glover Lee characterizes them as “at once comic and
tragic, ironic and ingenuous” [9, p. 6]. Lee notes the tragic atmosphere of Hinojosa’s humor “which shifts rapidly from irony to humor to pathos to tragedy” [9,
p. 20–21]. María I. Duke dos Santos and Patricia de la Fuente call the anecdotal
narrative one of Hinojosa´s trademarks [4, p. 72]. Rosaura Sanchez argues that
“irony and humor are the outstanding characteristics of the Hinojosa novel” [15,
p. 80]. José David Saldívar emphasizes Hinojosa’s rhetoric — “its mix of wit, “el
chateo,” and pathos, its oral expansiveness and its dialogic novelistic form,” adding that situational and verbal irony are author’s favorite tropes in Klail City y sus
alrededores [14, p. 52].
Anyway, up to date none of the scholars has consistently looked at Hinojosa’s humor in the light of Bakhtin’s theory of carnival, except for some occasional
glimpses such as given by Hernández who mentioned the Bakhtinian concept of
disintegrated personality in Hinojosa’s novels, or Saldívar who studied “heteroglossia” in Hinojosa’s novels [7; 14]. However, the analysis of Hinojosa’s humor in the framework of Bakhtin’s theory provides new insights into the author’s
novels and Mexican-American humor in general, it enables us to understand and
describe Mexican and Mexican-American worldview not only in ethnic terms but
also in a wide, universal perspective.
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
Carnival is an indispensable component of folk culture, which “overturns
the established hierarchy and sets up a popular, democratic counter-culture. In
the place of repressive seriousness comes laughter. A single voice is challenged by
a plurality of voices” [12, p. 137].
For Bakhtin, one of the main features of carnivalesque novel is its dialogic
or polyphonic form that we can find in Hinojosa’s novels [2, p. 33–34]. Hinojosa’s
novels are highly fragmented and polyphonic. The narration constantly switches
not only between the main characters as the principal narrative points but also
between secondary characters.
Throughout a novel the same fragment is recounted from different points
of view while the characters switch roles, assuming the active role of the narrator,
the “semi-active” role of the subject of narration or the passive role of the listener.
That is to say, the line between the roles is blurred. Hinojosa also merges voices of
generally anonymous characters and creates carnivalesque polyphony. According
to Guillermo Hernández this oral technique “converts the readers into quasi-oral
listeners, embedded in a community context” [7, p. 13].
This polyphonic manner of narration fits into Bakhtin’s definition of the
carnival, according to which “carnival does not know footlights, in the sense that
it does not acknowledge any distinction between actors and spectators… Carnival
is not a spectacle seen by the people; they live in it, and everyone participates
because its very idea embraces all the people” [1, p. 7].
As Bakhtin states in Rabelais and his World, carnival establishes a special
form of free and familiar contact among people who are usually divided by the
barriers of caste, property, profession and age. This contact forms an essential
element of the carnival spirit, while people are being reborn for new, purely human relations [1, p. 10].
The wild and turbulent carnival spirit reigns among Chicanos when they
participate in sheriff elections in the city square of Klail. Although Sheriff Wallace Parkinson, called Big Foot, who “could barely read, let alone write his own
name; that he was duller than an average mother-in-law” is a representative of
authorities, he is the king of fools at the same time. He was elected or crowned
before, and he is to be reelected again, but his reelection is denigrated by the
“Big Foot usually talked only at barbecues (when people eat, drink
and seldom hear or listen)
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
… and there he stood: beaming and wearing a wide shit-eating grin all
over him.
“Migos meos…Mah friends…first woman I ever marry was a Meskin girl
from Bascom and then she went and died on me…”
Measuring the crowd, grin in place. “I married again — a second time,
see? — and again I married a Meskin girl from Bascom, but she too passed on;
died, don’t you know.”
“Well, I married for a third time, a Klail City girl this time, and Meskin
a-course… and then she died.”
Here and there voices of dissent would be heard, but barely: “You’re
feedin’ ‘em shit, you red-neck!”
“They died on purpose, Asshole!”
“Yeah; it’s that breath a-yours!” [5, p. 109].
The carnival familiarity is reflected in people’s abusive language and insults. The accent of the fragment is on a special connection between food, body
and death within the principle of the material body and the lower stratum of the
body, “the life of the belly and the reproductive organs.” This degradation, as stated by Bakhtin, has not only a destructive, negative aspect, but also a regenerating
one [1, p. 21]. Hinojosa highlights that Chicano community undergoes a renewal.
Although there are fools “who’d been bought and paid for,” who “would applaud
on cue… even try to shush the hecklers to show that at least they were educated;
decent folk,” and who elect the king of carnival, the majority of Mexican-Americans see through the authorities. The sheriff tries to bribe Mexicanos with free
food and drinks, information about his marital experience and knowledge of few
Spanish words. The fact that Big Foot is reelected underlines the timeless essence
of the carnival.
The town square also becomes the place of sacred parody when religion
is carnivalized. One of the main characters and narrators Jehú is a picaro type:
he is an orphan who has to change homes and continuously look for new places
where to stay as his relatives are unwilling to take care of him. Therefore the road
is a recurring motif in these books. First, the boy travels with Peláez Tent Show,
but when the owner of the Show and Jehú’s “second father” dies, he becomes
an acolyte, living under the roof of a catholic priest, Don Pedro. After that, he
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
escapes from Don Pedro’s custody with a lay preacher, Brother Imás and finally
settles in the house of his uncle. When travelling with Brother Imás, Jehú sells
Bibles to earn money for food in the square of Klail City. The boy tries on the role
of a canny trickster, thus coming full circle in his metamorphosis from a carnival
barker into an acolyte and back into the barker.
Trying to sell books, Jehú uses just the same tricks he learned with the
Peláez Tent Show. First, he distorts and exaggerates the facts, then lies through his
teeth, sometimes talking nonsense, and, finally, uses flattery. His stylized speech
in the second novel, Klail City, seems grotesque and ambivalent as it fuses the high
with the low, sermon clichés with carnival spiel techniques which he mastered in
the first novel, The Valley. To achieve this grotesque narration, Hinojosa combines
hyperbole with gradation, repetition and alliteration. Jehú uses long simple sentences with homogeneous parts, where exclamatory and interrogative sentences,
including rhetorical questions, predominate.
The Peláez Tent Show, the cleanest and most moral of all tent shows;
the one and the only real, genuine Peláez Tent Show — the most prestigious,
the one you’ve selected above all others, is happy, proud, pleased to present
an unforgettable performance! A clean, sanitary, fast-moving show for the entire family! <…> And listen to this: the most educated dog in the world and in
all of the visible planets of our present universe [6]! (The Valley)

I worked and labored, long and hard, here and there, and everywhere. But I was lost! And then? Lost and found. Yes, a servant to the reverend
Father Pedro Zamudio from Flora — a saintly man — and though him I saw the
light, and I saw the way [5, p. 98]; (Klail City)

This tender tome, today, tomorrow, practices, preaches and protects
us here and hands us happiness for the entire family [5, p. 97]. (Klail City)
Jehú’s deceitful discourse ends up in fallacy and sophism when he tries to
assure Mexican-Americans that having a Bible provides salvation, he parodies
catholic preachers and profanes Christian doctrines. Anyway, whereas Jehú is a
temporary trickster, Don Pedro, the priest of the town of Flora, is a full-fledged
Pope or Bishop of Hinojosa’s carnival. Although Don Pedro is a clergyman,
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
judging by the way he treats people, it appears that Don Pedro is wearing a mask
of the priest. It becomes clear, for example, in the fragment when Bruno Cano,
“a successful merchant as well as the sole owner of a slaughterhouse,” asks Don
Pedro to help him out of the hole, which Bruno and his compadre Burnias were
digging at Doña Panchita’s lot in order to find hidden treasures: “That was me,
but I’m okay, really. Now, for God’s sake, hurry up and get me the hell sorry.”
“And what was it you were about to say, my son?” (Knowingly)
“Nothing, Reverend Father, sir — just get me out o’ this hole. Please.”
“Well, it’s this way: I’d like to, but I don’t think I can, you know. I mean, you
are a little, ah, heavy, ah, a little fat, you know.”
“Fat? Faa-aaaaat? Your Mama’s the fat one!”
“My whaaaaaaat?”
“Your mother! that’s who! That cow! Now, get me the hell out o’ here!
Do it!”
“Speaking of mothers (sweetly), friend Cano, maybe yours can get you ‘out
o’ that hole’!”
“Why, you pug-nosed, pop-eyed, overripe, overbearing, overeating,
wine-swilling, son-of-a-bitch! You do your duty as a priest!”
“I will, my son, I will,” he purred” [6].
The hierarchical line between the priest and the parishioner fades, the
alarmingly lofty remarks of the priest combine with the vulgar abuses of the entrepreneur, establishing the familiar contact. Hinojosa creates a farcical situation
by means of frustrated expectations as both of the characters break the norms
and social rules in line with the carnival tradition. Don Pedro is depicted as an
arrogant, vulnerable person prone to scolding and taking revenge, who considers
himself superior. When Don Pedro comes across a person in need, he is not eager
to help, but finds it appropriate to teach Bruno Cano a lesson, and a cruel one: he
begins to read Bruno Cano a prayer for the deceased.
In this passage, Hinojosa creates a vivid, bright, cinematographic picture
by using parallelism and alternating between the descriptions of Don Pedro and
Bruno Cano. The description sounds polyphonic: the Mass for the Dead, another
firm reminder of Don Pedro’s mother, a low growl exploded into a high-piercing
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
It should be noted that Bruno Cano embodies the motif of the carnival
death. Bruno curses Don Pedro and all his family with death. Instead Bruno dies
as he can’t survive Don Pedro’s desire to guide him into the right path: “Somewhere just after one of the mysteries or one of Bruno’s motherly recollections,
Bruno stopped breathing and thus delivered his uneasy soul to the Lord, the Devil
or to Don Pedro’s mother” [6].
Strictly speaking, Don Pedro’s reading the Mass while Bruno Cano is still
alive results in Bruno’s death. The ambivalence “dead-alive” becomes obvious;
Bruno Cano is a living corpse. Under the carnival theory, Bruno Cano can be
perceived as a carnival sacrifice, considering that later Bruno’s death triggers a
grotesque funeral celebration.
When Don Pedro learns about Bruno Cano’s passing away, he feels neither
guilty nor responsible for his death. Quite the opposite, when the Carmona brothers, who have taken charge of the funeral, visit the priest’s house, Don Pedro, with
a hyperbolic remark, puts himself on the same footing as the Church: “I’m not
about to bury him, and the Church certainly won’t” [6]. The Carmona brothers
have to spend no small time before the priest agrees to bury Bruno Cano. The derision of the clergymen reaches its climax when Don Pedro who considers himself
a worthy-of-God churchman and finds his decision equal to that of the Church,
agrees to perform a funeral service after being offered a drink and promised that
it won’t take long. This ruthless ridicule to which the author subjects Don Pedro
is a clear manifestation of Hinojosa’s anti-clericalism, which Nicolás Kanellos
identifies as one of the deeper layers for his readers to explore [8, p. 5]. In this
disparaging portrayal of the priest, Hinojosa takes up the tradition of Mexican
satire, harking back to the 16th century, that has invariably targeted the greed of
the clergymen.
The Carmona brother’s comment that “everybody’s entitled to at least one
burial” brings us to the idea of a timeless cycle of life and death represented by the
carnival. Thus, for example, the citizens of Flora die and are resuscitated in Don
Pedro’s thoughts and prayers, when the priest returns home after a seven-hour
service. Jehú, a young acolyte at the time of the events and a grown-up bank employee at the time of the narration, witnesses Don Pedro’s fury: “I heard his voice,
a low rumble at first and then that clear baritone, and finally the words
started horning out here and there, and choice ones, too. The parishioners
were among the first casualties, then the town of Flora came under fire,
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
after that, the Valley went up in flames. At every inch of the way, though, the
Carmona brothers and Bruno Cano were put to death, sent to Hell, resurrected and put to death again” [5, p. 81].
Hinojosa resorts to the euphemistic metaphor, describing Don Pedro’s
cursing as a battle which is based on gradation and anticlimax.
The image of the Valley in flames also reminds us of the burning of the
carnival King or another carnivalesque representation of the evil. Jehú finishes
his story, noting ironically that Don Pedro was enjoying the sermon “for once”:
“Seven hours! Seven! You sinners! No lunch, no merienda and no supper either!
No bathrooms! Prisoners all” [5, p. 81].
As for the parishioners, the community members swear by church, but it
is obvious that the church is losing ground as an establishment of spiritual unity.
Instead, it is trying to keep Chicanos together with mere traditions which put
ritual first rather than the meaning of human life. In his works, Hinojosa captures
the change in customs when funeral is not “somber” anymore. As Norma Williams
states in The Mexican American Family: Tradition and Change: “Many persons,
particularly those in their 30s and 40s, were deeply disturbed about the loss of
respect for the diseased. They are torn between the longing for tradition and a
recognition that times have changed. Today, the familial and friendship gatherings turn into a party — a time when relatives and friends who have not seen one
another in years can reminisce and discuss the divergent paths they have taken in
life” [16, p. 59].
In other words, Hinojosa shows the other side of the coin: however
well-attended, the funeral is a part of social etiquette, a matter of habit which
often doesn’t stir up any genuine emotions in people, whose principal motivation
is to amuse themselves.
The author travesties Mexican-Americans’ festive attitude to the funeral
in Carmona brothers’ speech: “We bring good news, as the brother says. We got
ourselves a funeral, boys <…> you know what to do: get at that hole, and spread
the word” [6]. Hinojosa uses the phrase “we got ourselves a funeral,” which more
likely implies “we got ourselves a party” and the biblical quote “spread the word,”
which combined together have an effect of dissonance and frustrated expectations with the reader.
Although Hinojosa exposes the Mexican-American obsession with rituals
and traditions to ridicule, portraying the funeral; the description of Bruno Cano’s
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
burial makes us think of the tradition of the Roman State, the Roman Saturnalias,
where the funeral ritual involved both lamenting (glorifying) and deriding the
deceased [1, p. 6].
Thus, during the funeral, Bruno’s grotesque metamorphosis reaches its
final stage. Having become a living corpse when Don Pedro was delivering the
sermon, Bruno undergoes the process of objectification: he is not a person any
more. That is why he is held in the beer locker: “When they came up to Germán
Salinas’ cantina, they found that Cano’s body was still in the beer locker” [6].
Hinojosa’s description of Bruno Cano’s funeral is the culmination of the
grotesque that represents a contradictory and double-faced fullness of life [1,
p. 62]. First of all, the scene is set with exaggerated numbers of every kind. The
funeral, which Don Pedro wanted to be a fifteen-minute matter, turns out to take
seven hours attended by four thousand people from all over the Valley, with four
orators, four choirs and three candy men selling several hundred pounds of icecream.
Hyperbole becomes the main device, which underlines that people overdo
absolutely everything looking for an “excuse to get out of the house.” Thus, hyperbole is combined with amplification in the description of the orators: “Four
orators showed up unannounced but dressed to the teeth: black flower, white hat,
gold book, and serious as Hell” [6]. In spite of Don Pedro’s “keen disappointment,” he tries to catch up with the rest of the funeral participants and “came
through with no less than three hundred Our Fathers, between Hail Marys, Hail
Holy Queens, etc” [6]. When the orators jump up “having gotten their respective second winds,” the funeral begins to transform. First, it turns into a contest
between the orators, as they “began to compete with one another until a time
limit was set” [6]. Later the transformation continues and the following metaphors become in order: “funeral-competition,” “funeral-one-man show” starring
Don Pedro, “funeral-street party” with choirs “taking requests” and candy men.
The main thing that Hinojosa derides, utilizing different narrative techniques and devices, is funeral as an excuse “to get out of the house.” For example,
in the following phrase “when he (Don Pedro) began to cry (anger, hysteria, hunger) the crowd understood, or thought it did: they dedicated their prayers to Don
Pedro”, irony is accompanied by bathos with free indirect speech “and to Don
Pedro’s dear, departed friend, the respectable what’s-his-name” [6]. Chicanos’
free indirect speech is also used as an understatement for the funeral: “People
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
from all over the Valley got word that something was up in Flora and there
they came in trucks, bikes, hitchhiking, while the more enterprising ones from
Klail leased a Greyhound that already had some people in it who had boarded
the bus back in Bascom, and they too joined the crowd” [6].
Using gradation Hinojosa describes Chicanos’ exodus to the town of Flora
where they were coming chaotically, driven by the idea of involvement and belonging, but not caring much. This indifference gets special emphasis in a parallel
sentence, which describes Chicanos’ reaction to the lack of ice-cream syrup: “the
candy men having run out almost from the start. It mattered little since the people didn’t care, and one could hear the chant for blocks around: ice, ice, ice, they
cried.” People’s chanting for ice becomes the climax of the grotesque and farcical
funeral, which according to Jehú’s ironic conclusion was a “first class funeral.”
Ultimately, the socially important event for Mexican Americans is profaned and turned into a true carnival with sacrifice, actors, musicians, all fools’
Pope of the carnival and the amusing crowd. In the description of the funeral,
Hinojosa creates a carnivalesque image of the anonymous masses, shoveling, eating and talking, which can be considered as a “universal triumphal banquet,” “the
triumph of life over death” [1, p. 283, 299]. It means that Chicanos regard Buno’s
death as a “moment in the triumphant life of the people and of mankind, a moment indispensable for their renewal and improvement” [1, p. 341].
Hinojosa’s representation of religion follows the rule of the carnivalesque
“turn-about” when “the logic of the “wrong side out” and of “bottom up” is also
expressed in gestures and movements [1, p. 410–411].
Chicanos’ religion combines Catholic doctrines that came from Spain with
Indian polytheistic rituals. Superstitious folk rituals, with their bizarre mixture
of magic healing and Catholic practices, come under the scathing wit of the main
characters. For example, after his father’s death, Jehú calls on his aunt Chedes,
who is a grotesque archetype of a superstitious Mexican-American. She “never
attended funerals” because of “her fear that if she did, then everyone there would
die <…> so she always stayed home, ironing” [6]. According to Jehú, his aunt had
a case of hiccups from time to time and went off in trances, the day when he visited
her, she was “fixing to faint or something, but she was frightfully absent-minded”
[6]. Being a grown-up, Jehú describes his aunt’s ritual in detail because, however
skeptical he was about the community rituals, the procedure made the nine-yearold boy feel ill at ease and frightened:
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
…when she stopped her ironing, placed her middle finger — all of it, to the
hilt — inside her mouth. She then placed the iron on the trivet and, finger in mouth,
she turned, opened the walnut ice box and proceeded to fill a tall glass of water. The
house was quiet, and she hadn’t said a word in about five minutes. Placing the glass
on the ironing board, she dipped that middle finger in the cold water, made the
sign of the cross in the air and then on my forehead: Drink this, she said, drink this
whole glass of water, Jehú. All of it, now, and don’t stop till you do. While you’re
doing that, I’m going to say an Our Father backwards for today’s the day you’re
to meet your new Pa [6].
Aunt Chedes’s ritual parodies the Catholic baptism ceremony, her carnivalesque backward “blessing” initiates Jehú’s picaro trip around the Valley. Yet,
with all her devoutness, Aunt Chedes does not rush to invite Jehú to stay with her
family. Instead, Jehú joins the Peláez Tent Show, where he really “meets his new
Pa,” Don Víctor, the owner of the show.
Rafe also goes through a religious-magical treatment when he gets ill after
an armed assault on him and his father. Being unable to cure the boy’s stammer
after a nervous breakdown, the family turns for assistance to Auntie Panchita,
the community curandera (healer). Chicanos respect and consult her with all
their maladies. Auntie Panchita offers an impressive range of services. On the one
hand, she is known as a “bone healer, midwife and general gynecological factotum
(G.G.F.) and a fare-the-well mender of preowned virgos belonging to some of the
neighborhood girls of all ages” [6]. On the other hand, she cures with prayers and
magic rituals and makes Chicanos believe in their recovery. For example, Rafe
confesses: “Had it not been for Auntie Panchita and her prayers, I might have
never recovered” [6]. In Auntie Panchita’s treatment, representation of “material
body lower stratum” is found side by side with religious prayers.
Finally, we will try to characterize Hinojosa’s carnival and determine its
type. Rolando Hinojosa calls his series “Klail City Death Trip Series” (KCDTS),
thus referring the reader to the theme of death from the very beginning. Rolando Hinojosa’s KCDTS becomes an illustration of the Dance of Death. Throughout the novels, Death, like Mexican La Catrina, escorts or accompanies the main
characters with constant reminders of its imminence. Rafe and Jehú are orphans.
Many of their classmates died in war. Their friends and relatives participated in
the Second World War or the Mexican Revolution and some of them didn’t return
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
home. Some Mexicanos were killed in accidents or by other Valley inhabitants. In
other words, Death is a recurring motif in KCDTS. The main device that the author employs to represent Death in his novels is macabre grotesque. Many characters die under strange circumstances, let alone Bruno Cano’s demise in a hole. For
instance, one of the members of the antagonist family Diamantina Leguizamón
“died as mad as she could possibly be after being bitten several times by a rabid
dog as Diamantina alighted from her carriage after High Mass.” Hinojosa also
describes “death caused by happiness and joy” [1, p. 408]. Pius V died “when he
heard Gabriel’s blast calling him to join that great number, just happened to be
resting a bit on top of Viola Barragán.” In both examples, death and religion are
degraded. According to Bakhtin’s theory of laughter, “when death and birth are
shown in their comic aspect, scatological images in various forms nearly always
accompany the gay monsters created by laughter in order to replace the terror that
has been defeated” [1, p. 151]. In other words, macabre laughter helps Chicanos
to defeat the fear of death. That is why commenting on his father’s death, Jehú
says: “He died as he was telling me a joke.” Since humor goes hand in hand with
tragedy in his life, Jehú becomes an embodiment of Mexican “melancholic humor” that Chicano members of the community use to defend themselves against
pain. It means that Chicanos and Mexicans alike have learned to “transform life’s
daily inequities and the pain they cause into sources of humor” [13, p. 219]. By
objectifying particular experience and sharing it in the form of jokes Chicanos
build a sense of solidarity and set up a public forum for the release of feelings
of anxiety as they “laugh at their foibles [13, p. 224].” Chicanos inherited this
perception of the world from their Mexican progenitors. In his “El laberinto de la
soledad” Octavio Paz explains that by means of “fiesta” or celebration of the Day
of the Dead the Mexican community protects itself against the envy of the gods
or the men [11, p. 50].
Paz’s description of the Day of the Dead demonstrates the universality of
Bakhtin’s theory of carnival. On the Day of the Dead, according to Paz, order disappears and chaos comes back, anything is permitted, the customary hierarchies
vanish, along with all social, sex, caste distinctions. Men disguise themselves as
women, gentlemen as slaves, the poor as the rich. The army, the clergy and the law
are ridiculed. Obligatory sacrilege, ritual profanation is committed. Regulations,
habits and customs are violated. Respectable people dress up in gaudy colors, hide
behind a mask, and escape from themselves [11, p. 51]. Indeed, the Day of the
Мировая литература / М.К. Бронич, М.И. Баранова
Dead — or previously known as “Paseo o Verbena de Todos los Santos” — celebrated by Mexicans not only has a lot in common with Catholic medieval celebrations like All Saints’ Day and All Souls´ Day, but, according to Elsa Malvido, historian and anthropologist, even originated from these Christian festivals brought
to Mexico by the Spanish.
Paz considers “fiesta” as a limited period of time for liberation that helps a
sorrowful country like Mexico to escape, not to “explode” [11, p. 53]. Throughout
Hinojosa’s novels, however, we can see that this festive perception of the world is
pervasive in Chicanos’ life rather than restricted to a particular time. And it is certainly not something unique to Mexican or Mexican-American culture. The carnivalesque perception of the world has a long history and a long way to go before
its understanding could claim some degree of completeness. In this context, the
scope of Bakhtin’s theory proves to be even more comprehensive than we expect.
The drama of laughter presents at the same time the death of the old and
the birth of the new world [1, p. 149]. For Mexican-American community, this
is not only a Trip of Death, but a new revival and transition from the old to the
new, from death to life. In the epigraph to The Valley, Hinojosa alters Mathew
Arnold’s famous lines from “Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse”: “Born between
two worlds, one dead and one as yet unborn” [9, p. 6]. Hinojosa depicts a new
stage in the development of Mexican-American community, integrating into the
Anglo-American society, when a new Mexican American is to be born. Rolando
Hinojosa shows a transitional Mexican-American community undergoing some
dramatic transformation of its views on religion, marriage, family and work that
define their sense of collectivity.
The analysis of Rolando Hinojosa’s novels in the framework of Bakhtin’s
theory of carnival gives us a new understanding of KCDTS. Carnival is omnipresent in Hinojosa’s works and all the characters are involved in it. The novels
are polyphonic as they are populated with an anonymous crowd of the Mexican-American community. We hear these anonymous voices mainly in the town
square that is the center of attraction in Mexican-American culture. The life of the
Chicano community revolves around this place where free, familiar contact can
be established. The town square becomes the setting for dethroning the authority
of official culture, parodying the institute of church, and, as a result, decrowning and unmasking of the carnival King. Hinojosa’s carnival features a variety
of carnivalesque characters such as the Pope, the jester, and the fool as well as
Studia Litterarum /2021 том 6, № 1
some typical rituals including the carnival sacrifice and the “funeral banquet.”
These ceremonies establish a special connection between food, body and death.
These and some other manifestations of the material body and the lower body
stratum have both destructive and regenerating functions at the carnival. The animalistic metamorphosis, sacred parody and “comic” death aim to defeat Chicanos’
fear of death and replace it with laughter. The Chicano community is summoned
to renewal and revival as death of the old leads to the birth of the new world.
“Birth-giving death” and the trip of death become recurring motifs in KCDTS
along with the motif of bad luck that bring up the idea of a timeless cycle of life
and death represented by the carnival.

Список литературы

1 Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Indiana University Press, 2009. 512 p. (In English)

2 Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford University Press, 2001. 246 p. (In English)

3 Bruce-Novoa, Juan. “Interview with Rolando Hinojosa.” Latin American Literary Review, vol. 5, no. 10, Special Issue of Chicano Literature, 1977, pp. 103–114. (In English)

4 Duke dos Santos, María I. and De la Fuente, Patricia. “The Elliptic Female Presence as Unifying Force in the Novels of Rolando Hinojosa.” The Rolando Hinojosa Reader: Essays Historical and Critical. Houston, Arte Público Press, 1985, pp. 64–75. (In English)

5 Hinojosa, Rolando. Klail City / Klail City y sus alrededores. Arte Público Press, Bilingual Edition, University of Houston, Texas, 2014. 320 p. (In English)

6 Hinojosa, Rolando. The Valley / Estampas del valle. Arte Público Press, Bilingual Edition, University of Houston, Texas, 2014. 256 p. (In English)

7 Hernández, Guillermo E. Chicano Satire: A Study in Literary Culture. The University of Texas Press, Austin, 1991. 166 p. (In English)

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9 Lee, Joyce Glover. The Fictional World of Rolando Hinoiosa. Doctor of Philosophy (English), Denton, Texas, 1993. 172 p. (In English)

10 Munguía Zatarain, Martha Elena. “Las Voces de La Risa: Locos y Cínicos en Los de Abajo.” Mariano Azuela y la literatura de la Revolución Mexicana, Rafael Olea Franco, editor. Ciudad de México, El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Lingüísticos y Literarios: Cátedra Jaime Torres Bodet, 2017. 376 p. (In Spanish)

11 Paz, Octavio. El laberinto de la soledad, 2.a edición, revisada y aumentada. México, Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1959. 191 p. (In Spanish)

12 Peck, John and Coyle, Martin. Literary Terms and Criticism. Red Globe Press, 1993. 236 p. (In English)

13 Reyna, José R. and Herrera-Sobek, María. Jokelore. Cultural Differences, and Linguistic Dexterity. The Construction of the Mexican Immigrant in Chicano Humor. Culture Across Boarders: Mexican Immigration and Popular Culture: 1st (First) Edition. University of Arizona Press, 1998. 268 p. (In English)

14 Saldívar, José David. “Rolando Hinojosa’s Klail City Death Trip: A Critical Introduction.” The Rolando Hinojosa Reader: Essays Historical and Critical. Houston, Arte Público Press, 1985, pp. 44–63. (In English)

15 Sánchez, Rosaura. “From Heterogeneity to Contradiction: Hinojosa’s Novel.” The Rolando Hinojosa Reader: Essays Historical and Critical. Houston, Arte Público Press, 1985, pp. 76–100. (In English)

16 Williams, Norma. The Mexican American Family: Tradition and Change. Altamira Press, 1990. 184 p. (In English)