"Bone, flesh, feather, fire": Symbol as freedom in Helena Maria Viramontes's Under the Feet of Jesus

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Although most critics of Under the Feet of Jesus have studied the political and social implications of Helena Maria Viramontes's depiction of piscadores, this article argues that the novel's rich use of symbolism depicts the protagonist's maturation through her mastery of semiotics. In learning how to assign meaning to physical and linguistic symbols, Estrella learns how to define and claim her own inscape, her subjective consciousness. Through the central symbols of the novel-the barn, the La Brea Tar Pits, owls/flying creatures, Jesus, and fire-Estrella explores the complex notion of human freedom inside a system of marginalization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-377
Number of pages12
JournalCritique - Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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