Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Carl H. Freedman


Bloodlines create an overlap in Native American and Chicano/a history, but this dissertation studies these ethnic groups together for reasons beyond this. Native Americans and Chicanos/as share more than blood; overlaps occur in language, religion, and United States geography. Psychic geography for each group also presents a kinship, for in the search for a redemptive personal identity (to stand against the forcible near-extinction of Native Americans and the cultural dismissal of Chicanos/as by their "native" land) each cultural group recognizes its difference. Having very little in dominant culture upon which to build an identity, Native Americans and Chicanos/as have turned inward to create their own texts of rediscovery. To achieve this personal rediscovery, Chicano/a and Native American writers often turn to magical realism. Through an examination of contemporary novels written by and about Native Americans and Chicanos/as, this dissertation explores the impact of magical realism on cultural mediation. Whether because of mixed ancestry or a liminal, borderlands setting, characters of the novels discussed in Chapters Two and Three face conflicting cultures (their own culture versus the dominant culture), and, because of magical intervention, are able to emerge from their respective conflicts with a blended sense of identity, taking the best each culture has to offer to form a new perspective. The works presented in Chapter Four study what I believe to be a uniquely Chicano/a trait: nearly magical writing. Chapter Two presents four characters and five novels as examples of the coming of age story, or bildungsroman, and the role of magical realism in this rite of passage. They are Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima, Louise Erdrich's The Bingo Palace and Love Medicine, Linda Hogan's Solar Storms, and Ana Castillo's So Far From God. Chapter Three explores adult reactions to magical realism, noting the differences in Chicano/a and Native American perspectives. Under discussion are Ana Castillo's So Far From God, Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, and Paula Gunn Allen's The Woman Who Owned the Shadows. The final chapter addresses what I have termed nearly magical literature, using Sandra Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek to illustrate this idea.