Monday, September 8, 2008

Pobrecita Lolita

How can one not pity poor Lola? From her birth to page 145, she is trapped living a life in which she has no control. She is held captive and prisoner from her birth by a native tribe in Colorado and then "saved" from those savages and brought to the United States to be eaten alive by New England's finest, Mrs. Norval (I think I might prefer the tribe but Ruiz de Burton never went into too much detail about life prior to Dr. Norval). Lola soon becomes the central victim of gossip, deceitful greed and ruthless plans for wealth what with her boxes of gold and dyed black skin. Every measure is taken to ensure her complete and utter unhappiness. 

Yet what can we say about the United States in the late 1800s from the story thus far? What does it mean to be an abolitionist in a Norther State prior to and during the civil war? And why, at this point in the story is it still accepted for Mrs. Norval treat young Lola with such rude, conniving and hateful behavior. She is after all, an incredibly wealthy Mexican girl of pure Spanish blood. What amazes me is that an ugly, bloody civil war is being fought between the Nation and the South when Mrs. Norval's sentiments regarding someone with (false) colour in their skin mirror the beliefs of the Southerners regarding slavery. Mrs. Norval would have been completely at ease with her conscience if she had left Lola to sleep with their servants. 

Although I realize that Mrs. Norval's racist way of thinking is not necessarily that of the senate and governors at this time but she is not alone in her evil way of thinking. All of New England seems to treat Lola with the same contempt and hate.  Abolition of slavery was not the only reason the Nation and South were fighting but it was a very important one. I cannot understand at this point in the story - and with my limited knowledge of history of the United States - how politics can escalade to war when the sentiments of the Nation resemble those of the South.


Max said...

I like how you took a look at Lola's perspective right from the beginning. It's very interesting to think about because so far she's a character without much of her own voice. The majority of her stories is told through others discussion.

AnnaC said...

Estoy de acuerdo, pobrecita Lolita!

Lola utters only a few sentences but her love and care for those who matter shines through. I admire Lola's courage for leaving Mr.Hackwell to attend Julian even though it was against Mrs.Norval's orders.

saucey boy said...

You make a good point, she's not so much a distinct character but moreso a reflection of the typical American mindset at the time.

Emily Hager said...

I agree with a lot that you say in this post. It it interesting how even in New England where they were fighting against slavery, there is still such a strong sentiment of racism amongst many of the people. I also found it a little ironic that it seems as though even such characters as the Doctor, Julian, are portrayed as more accepting and less racist as many others in the town, they seemed to have accepted Lola on the condition that her skin pigment was only temporarily dark and make it a point to bring up her "pure Spanish blood" all the time. Even Lola at one point makes a comment to Julian that is racially negative directed at herself. I wonder how much they would have accepted her had she not been of purely white blood.