How to Tame a Wild Tongue- Summary and Response

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Summary and Analysis: “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”

Gloria Anzaldua, the author of “Borderlands/LaFrontera,” is an American poet and novelist. In her chapter on “How to Tame Wild Tongue,” she expresses her involvements as a woman residing at the boundary of the United States of America and Mexico. She states that women living at the border of these diverse nations are referred to as Mestiza. Mexican immigrants are faced with societal and ethnic challenges as they are treated inferiorly in the United States. Among the themes that the author focuses on in her essay are racism, sexism, identity creation, and the low self-approval that is evident among the Chicanos. Chicanos are Mexican-Americans who possess a mixture of both cultures and therefore lack an original identity.

An Overview of “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”

Gloria Anzaldua begins her essay with an incident which involves an appointment with a dentist. The doctor has a hard time treating her teeth due to the obstruction posed by the tongue. She considers this whole incident to be a metaphor. Gloria as well recalls other childhood remembrances, some of which left her with deep agony as she went through many struggles together with her fellow Chicanos being looked down upon. An example of these incidences is when she was secluded from other students, and taken to a corner for trying to spell the teacher’s name. Under normal circumstances, that would not a mistake enough to attract such a heavy punishment. Her being a Chicano definitely added to her woes in that particular incident.

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In her essay, it is evident that the Chicanos are yet to confirm their identity as they are torn between two cultures. The Chicanos speak different languages as they have a variety of parlances. However, Gloria is gratified to be a Chicano. Her love for the Chicanos becomes palpable when she volunteers to train them on how to speak English. She wanted them to have an easy time communicating with people from other cultures. Gloria’s main objective is to construct an identity for the Chicanos to raise their self-esteem and gain respect from their counterparts. She believes this would only be possible if the Chicanos can communicate easily with people from other cultures, hence her resolve to teach them English.

“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” Summary and Analysis

“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” essay has been created to focus on language and identity. The essay reveals that the European conquest had a great political and social-economic influence on the Chicanos as they lived at the perimeter of their land. They therefore played a significant role in rubbing off their identity and language. According to Gloria, language and identity are not synonymous but rather ethnic identity is based on self-endorsement. Gloria is seen to have self-esteem issues due to the negative reactions from the public because she is a Chicano. However, due to self-validation, she has begun to make notable progress. She points out that language defines one’s identity. She however lacks identity as she uses diverse dialects, that is, both Hispanic and English.

Gloria in her essay describes human beings as intricate and assorted as they use different languages. In this respect, she forms an affiliation between her distinctiveness and the different languages she uses. She as well describes the various versions of different languages. English, for example, has three versions: slang, Standard English, and the working class version. Spanish language, on the other hand, has six versions, which include Pachuco, Chicano, standard Spanish, standard Mexican, tex-mex, and north Mexican. According to Gloria, heterogeneous people are people who possess dissimilar mannerisms thus making it grim to comprehend their behavior and identity. The writer investigates why her language is well-thought-out as prescribed. The shreds of evidence that are presented to her are enough proof that the language is banned. She thus admits to it and resolves to identify herself with a group of individuals that suffer the same predicament. The language one uses establishes one’s identity.

Gloria further notes that there has been some improvement in the identification of the Chicanos as political parties have risen to defend their rights as a minority group. Several books have as well been published in Chicano Spanish. However, the answers concerning their language, race, culture, and freedom are yet to be found.


“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” has played a principal role in raising an alarm on various issues that are affecting the American society to-date. Gloria was greatly influenced by the events that took place during the Chicano movement in the 1960s. She was a participant of this very movement. It is therefore right to assume that most of the work was translated from direct involvement with the occurrences. The author’s gender has helped to bring out the themes as required. As a woman living at the border of the USA and Mexico, she must have undergone intense struggles. Among the issues that have been brought out in the article are racism, self-approval, identity construction, and sexism. Gloria’s work is full of knowledge and inspiration to the audience.

According to the poet, the process through which the Chicanos change their social, psychological, and cultural patterns is forceful and involves a lot of violence. They receive a lot of negative reaction due to their modes of expression and their accent. The author’s description of this situation as linguistic terrorism is one of the forces of the essay. It is apparent from her argument that languages are biased and unreceptive to social and ethnic revolution. She as well makes it clear that identity formation depends on the control level of one’s social involvement. The bold ideas that are depicted in the “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” essay were developed in the author’s involvement in the Chicano movement.

Research has it that Mexican-Americans have been isolated for a long time in history for over two centuries. They were denied access to quality education compared to Native American citizens. In most cases, they were sent to vocational schools where the education was not up to standard. Their children were punished for using the Spanish language in their classrooms instead of English. The Mexican-American children, therefore, developed low self-approval as they were mortified of their origin. This lead to an upsurge in the rate of school dropout as the cultural domination led to increased stigmatization.

The Mexican-American children felt left out as they could not involve themselves in sporting and recreational activities together with their peers as they were often kept away from all forms of activities. On the same note, Mexicans-American adults did not have access to well-paying jobs, and therefore their living standards were way too low compared to the quality of life that Native Americans enjoyed. The Chicanos were looked down upon by Native American citizens. The segregation of the Chicano’s resulted in an increased crime rate due to lack of necessities while others aimed at revenging against the Americans. They were not consulted when it came to decision making and developments issues, unlike other regions.

The author was proficient and operational in divulging her emotional state through the facts that had been collected from history. I sturdily believe that every human being ought to live according to his cultural norms and values without having to be looked down upon by others. The article clearly states that according to the constitution, Congress should not create any law regarding the institution of religion, curtailing of liberty to discourse or press, and the right of persons to amass and lobby the government for a redress of grumbles. The author states that her tongue will be illegitimate until the time she will be at liberty to write bilingually without having to interpret to either the English speakers or the Spanish speakers. Everyone has the right to express his/her thoughts no matter the situation, location, or the people involved.

I strongly believe that protests are very effective when it comes to raising grievances. One has the right to protest if the protests will be of great benefit to the society. I feel that Gloria champions for accommodation of minorities in all sectors be it education, employment, empowerment, or identification. People from all cultural backgrounds should have access to equal opportunities without stigmatization and prejudice. In this respect, Gloria through “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” wanted to ascertain the future generations of the Chicanos did not have to experience the struggles she underwent in her life especially as a woman.


Human beings have diverse responsibilities in society. These roles are socially indomitable.

There is a strong affiliation between social contributions and identity formation. The affiliation is dependent on various variables that include political, economic, and ethnic backgrounds.

Language goes hand in hand with the identification of culture. Language variations lead to instability of culture. The contributing factors of culture are political, economic, and terrestrial conditions.

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“How to Tame a Wild Tongue” points out the experiences of the author as a Chicano and the hardships the Chicanos underwent for decades. Language is the key factor that contributes to identity construction. It helps to create unity and acts as a mode of communication and interaction with others. The world contains billions of people who use diverse dialects and therefore it is upon each person to appreciate their language. It is imperative that people learn to put up with each other. A nation can accrue many benefits from being multicultural. The author addressed the themes of racism, low self-esteem, cultural domination, and identity creation effectively.

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