La Malinche Essay

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"La Malinche." Slave, interpreter, secretary, mistress, mother of the first "Mexican." her very name still stirs up controversy. Many Mexicans continue to revile the woman called Doña Marina by the Spaniards and La Malinche by the Aztecs, labeling her a traitor and harlot for her role as the alter-ego of Cortes as he conquered Mexico.
They ignore that she saved thousands of Indian lives by enabling Cortes to negotiate rather than slaughter. Her ability to communicate also enabled the Spaniards to introduce Christianity and attempt to end human sacrifice and cannibalism. Herself a convert, baptized Marina, she was an eloquent advocate for her new faith. As for the charges against her, they are in my opinion baseless. So
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Diaz marveled at her kindness in forgiving them for the injustice she had suffered. The author referred to her only as Marina or Doña Marina. So whence came the name "La Malinche?" Diaz said that because Marina was always with Cortes, he was called "Malinche"--which the author translated to mean "Marina's Captain." Prescott, in the "Conquest of Mexico," (perhaps the best known book on the subject) confirms that Cortes was always addressed as "Malinche" which he translated as Captain and defined "La Malinche" as "the captain's woman."
Both definitions confirm that the Indians saw Cortes and his spokesperson as a single unit. They recognized that what they heard were the words of "Malinche," not "La Malinche. " So much for the charge that she was a traitor, instigating the destruction of the Aztec Empire.
As for the charge of "harlotry," it is equally flawed. She was totally loyal to Cortes, a one-man woman, who loved her master. Cortes reciprocated her feelings. Time after time he was offered other women but always refused them. Bernal Diaz frequently commented on the nobility of her character and her concern for her fellow "Mexicans."
It is very possible that without her, Cortes would have failed. He himself, in a letter preserved in the

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