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"El Norte" the Movie

. . but you're already dead." This statement heightens the extent to which Enrique felt he had to replace his traditional cultural values with new values in order to survive in America. The culture clash experienced by Enrique does not stop with his relations with white Americans, however. He also experiences conflicts of this sort with Mexican-Americans, as symbolized by the character of Carlos. As noted by Enrique's friend Jorge, Carlos is a "pocho," or Chicano who was raised in America and does not even speak the Spanish language. Despite Carlos' American heritage, his Mexican background causes him to be reduced to doing "shitwork" just like Jorge and Enrique. Thus, "significantly, the villain of El Norte is not a 'gringo,' but another member of the California Latin community, whom the 'gringos' see as 'all alike'" (O'Brien 212). In this context, it is interesting to note that the Mexican-born Jorge befriends Enrique because he believes that Enrique is also Mexican, as opposed to Central American. This makes one wonder if Jorge would have extended the same degree of friendship had he known the truth about Enrique's cultural background.

A secondary anthropological issue can also be seen in El Norte. This involves the difficulties faced by illegal aliens in crossing the border and then surviving once they arrive in America. In the case of Rosa and Enrique, this problem is complicated by the fact that, if caught, they could be shipped back to Guatemala where they would be instantly killed. Thus, a sub-theme of the film is "the typical difficult, wrenching experiences of Central American refugees" (Kael 114). Nevertheless, the culture clash experienced by Enrique and Rosa in their journeys provides the strongest conflict in the film. This point is brought home by Rosa on her deathbed, when she claims that they have no home anywhere. In their own land, they were subject to death; in Mexico, they were surrounded by povert...

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"El Norte" the Movie. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:43, September 21, 2017, from
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