"Turrrtle" Displacing and Recovering a Queerly Gendered Body in Helena María Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them Keri- ann Blanco Helena María Viramontes's Their Dogs Came with Them has readers trudge through East Los Angeles during the 1960s and 1970s, exposing how freeway construction and city development have threatened and destroyed the lives and personal histories of the city's inhabitants. Within the novel, the history of Los Angeles's transformation into the metropolis it is today represents the continuance of western advancement, causing the dislocation and erasure of its eastside community.1 This "freeway expansion," as Sarah D. Wald explains, "echo[es] the displacement and loss of land Mexican inhabitants suffered after California transferred from Mexican to US ownership" (73).2 Following each character as she navigates through the drastic changes of East Los Angeles during this period, the text moves through the overlapping narratives of four young women. Buried beneath the rubble of the city's reconstruction and interlaced with the other narratives in the novel is the story of Turtle: a young, homeless, female gang member who passes for male. When Viramontes decided to write Turtle as female instead of male as she had originally planned, she explains that through this
Western American Literature – The Western Literature Association
Published: Aug 27, 2016
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