Rigoberta Menchu's Book Essay

1660 words - 7 pages

Rigoberta Menchu, a Quiche Indian woman native to Guatemala, is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for politically reaching out to her country and her people. In her personal testimony tittled “I, Rigoberta Menchu” we can see how she blossomed into the Nobel Prize winner she is today. Following a great deal in her father’s footsteps, Rigoberta’s mobilization work, both within and outside of Guatemala, led to negotiations between the guerillas and the government and reduced the army power within Guatemala. Her work has helped bring light to the strength of individuals and citizen organization in advocacy and policy dialogue on the world scale. In a brief summary of the book I will explore why Rigoberta Menchu is important to Guatemalan development, what she did, and how she helped her people overcome the obstacles thrown their way.
As far back as Rigoberta Manchu can remember, her life has been divided between the highlands of Guatemala and the low country plantations called the fincas. Routinely, Rigoberta and her family spent eight months working here under extremely poor conditions, for rich Guatemalans of Spanish descent. Starvation malnutrition and child death were common occurrence here; rape and murder were not unfamiliar too. Rigoberta and her family worked just as hard when they resided in their own village for a few months every year. However, when residing here, Rigoberta’s life was centered on the rituals and traditions of her community, many of which gave thanks to the natural world. When working in the fincas, she and her people struggled to survive, living at the mercy of wealthy landowners in an overcrowded, miserable environment. By the time Rigoberta was eight years old she was hard working and almost capable of picking enough pounds of coffee to earn the unfair daily wage supplied by the finca.
Although Rigoberta lived in a traditional Indian society, she learned about the world outside of the fincas and the Altiplano at a very young age. She experiences the death of her younger brother at the finca. She feels angry and afraid of what her future holds for her as an indigenous girl. Rigoberta again feels scared, yet compelled, after her first trip to Guatemala City with her father. She starts to crave change for both herself and for her community as she gets older. She yearns for an education and hopes to learn Spanish so that she may explore the world outside of the Altiplano and the fincas; she desires to learn about the world outside and its people.
She is offered a job as a maid in the home of a wealthy landowner located in Guatemala City, and she jumps at the chance, seeing it as an opportunity to learn Spanish. However, after arriving in Guatemala City, she begins to understand the discrimination against her people. Even the dog at the landowner’s home is treated better than her. It is here that she meets Candelaria , an Indian woman like herself, working for the same wealthy landowner, but who...

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