Character Analysis of Under the Feet
Estrella, throughout the entire novel, serves as the strong base for the family and through the setting established, the audience is able to see her grow in her social, political, economical, and cultural knowledge. Estrella’s mother, Petra, was left a long time ago by her husband. It is her circumstances that the reader is asked to relate with most. Estrella learns from her father’s disappearance that men cannot be trusted or depended on, and that women will usually always be left to take care of the family.
Just as Petra has been abandoned physically by Estrella’s father, and mentally by Perfecto, Estrella soon will come to be abandoned by Alejo. The fact that Perfecto has not married her mother, furthers this idea of lack of commitment made by the men in her life. “The eucalyptus trees lined the dirt road like a row of thin dancing girls fanning their feathers. Estrella knows the world of men and women through her mother Petra and Perfecto, ‘the man who was not her father’” (3).
Viramontes is sympathetic to the men in some ways, but she does emphasize that when the men abandon the family, the women are left to endure for themselves and their children. Estrella and Alejo’s relationship, serves as a major basis for the author’s allegation in this idea of suffering. Alejo’s death represents how once again a female is left behind. Estrella is the heart and soul of the novel and her love for Alejo, was more important than Alejo himself or his death.
Helena Maria Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus also portrays the awakening in the characters’ social, political, economical, and cultural knowledge. The book’s main appeal and power is the author’s use of Estrella, who serves as the focal point of all the large issues. In one particular scene, we see Estrella playing with one a naked doll. Estrella asks the naked doll if she was okay and then shook the doll’s head “No”. This conversation with the oll can be seen as the sense of denial that takes place in a child’s mind that is not allowed to openly express herself, her fears, her anxieties, and her hopes. She allows the doll to represent her honest feelings about the lifestyle of living she is placed in. She is a unique and interesting individual, who will not grow up to be knocked down by economic issues, difficult labor, and especially men. She is being raised in a world where women are expected to suffer silently and to be at the mercy of their men.
However, men were not expected to return this slave-like behavior for the women. This setting of the novel allows the reader to see exactly how treacherous life can be. This suffering is so present in Estrella’s family’s lives, yet she somehow is able to bring the family along no matter how difficult the situation may be. She is still trapped in between two very different worlds: “She tried to remember which side she was on and which side of the wire mesh she was safe in” (59).
Her mother may be taken over by a world of suffering, but she is not so beaten that she cannot pass some of her fighting spirit on to Estrella. Estrella is pushed to mature completely while still a child, and is forced to deal with adult problems and tasks. Estrella is such a strong character in this novel and definitely serves as the focal point of social, political, economical, and cultural growth. Her setting and relationships allow the reader to see exactly how humanity, no matter the age, is able to overcome difficult times.
There is a spirit and fire in Estrella, seen through her words and actions, that allows one to see she will not be buried in a life of suffering, but rather make sure to make a successful life for herself. The lack of suffering shown through Estrella’s actions when compared to other characters really shows how powerful and confident of a young lady she really is. The character is definitely one that a reader will remember due to her growth, strength, and positivity when times may seem too difficult to bear. Work Cited Viramontes, Helena Maria. Under the Feet of Jesus. New York: Plume, 1996. Print.