In Talking Back: Toward a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticism (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1992), Debra A. Castillo distinguishes between silencing, a condition imposed from outside, and silence freely chosen. She further suggests that the latter can take two forms: using silence as a weapon or breaking silence with hypocrisy (Castillo, 38-39). The interplay between silencing and silence, as explained by Castillo, characterizes Elena Garro’s life and work. After being imprisoned for her activism on behalf of the Indian peasants in Chihuahua and Morelos, taunted by the press, rejected by the left for allegedly betraying the leaders of a planned 1968 coup, and barred from publishing houses that were controlled by her powerful ex-husband Octavio Paz, Garro left Mexico for the United States in 1971. She moved on to Spain, where her Mexican passport was confiscated, and finally settled in France. (19-20)
These events had a profound effect on Garro’s literary career, her attitude toward authorship, and the creation of the writer/artist protagonists of the works published after a thirteen year hiatus. Garro initially, however, remained silent in response to personal and political persecution, to misrepresentations of her words and actions, to the limitations of her broken health and to the demands of single parenting. . . . (20)
[When] Garro again wrote and published, she wrote of loneliness, loss, fear and persecution while denouncing the silencing of the female authorial voice and the sado-masochistic underpinnings of male-female relationships. Garro’s protagonists, as the author herself, suffer the negative consequences of female authorship and other creative activity. In these novels, Garro implicitly denounces the hypocrisy of the Latin American leftist intellectual who takes upon himself the social, poltical and economic privileges of the previos aristocratic elite and who represses the female narrative voice even as he claims to express alternate (more real) realities than those of official discourse. While Garro’s protagonists decry male control of authorship, and their own forced silence, they reclaim their own right to author-ity as they create a different reality. . . . (20)
To address the problems confronting the female author/creative artist, Garro creates an alternate discourse characterized by omission, marginal perspective, ambiguity, displacement and troping. Through this discourse, Garro and her protagonists appropriate silence as they appear to submit to injuctions to [it] . . . while at the same time telling the story of the silencing of the female writer. . . . (20-21)
In her article on the semiotics of guilt in Garro’s work, Ana Bundgard asserts that falling into guilt is transgression and rupture, a necessary evil for anyone who aspires to status as subject. By taking on the role of writer, Lelinca carries a burden of guilt that represents rupture from the paradise of the patriarchal home of her childhood. She appropriates Milton’s title to explain that his paradise, which she had hoped to rediscover, is truly lost; she can only be object in his paradise, while in her paradise with the celluloid dall, of her own invention, she gains subject status. Although the four may be dead, as implied in Jacinto’s comments, they have achieved the “queendom” of heaven, presided over by the doll/goddess, through their subjectivity, by writing the pages/wings smudged with ink. (38)
–Marketta Laurila, “Decapitation, Castration and Creativity in Elena Garro’s Andamos huyendo Lola [We are Fleeing Lola].” En Literature and the Writer, ed. Michael Meyer. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004. 19-41.