Breaking the Silence in Mercedes Valdivieso’s La brecha (1961) and Maldita yo entre las mujeres (1991)

Céire Broderick


Historically, in Chilean literature women have not been afforded the same presence or agency as men. This has been a cause of great concern for Chilean women authors and is something they continue to challenge in contemporary Chilean literature. While in the last century some women authors continued to acquiesce to the androcentric expectations of society which called for representations of women as submissive and obliging, others rebelled and refused to conform to such norms. This article discusses how Mercedes Valdivieso used her first publication, La brecha (1961) and her final publication Maldita yo entre las mujeres (1991) to question the expectations of women within Chilean society and to encourage renewed perspectives on the matter. It argues that the primary tool adopted by Valdivieso to accomplish this goal is to give her protagonists a voice allowing them to express opinions on the situations in which they find themselves. With this voice they also criticise generally accepted assumptions such as women’s supposedly innate responsibility for original sin and also the double standards that exist between men and women’s approach to sex.

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