Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Raquel Chang-Rodríguez

Committee Members

Malva E. Filer

Juan Carlos Mercado

Subject Categories

Latin American Literature


Peruvian Literature 1940s, Fiction, Coastal Novel, Feminine Voices, Short Story, Essay, 1950s Generation


Each of the two female writers at the crux of this dissertation, María Rosa Macedo (1909-1991) and Sara María Larrabure (1921-1962), wrote an unparalleled novel: respectively, Rastrojo (1944) and Rioancho (1949). Their primary and complementary narratives overlap in the sociocultural, historical and political context of the first half of 20th-century Peru. This study proposes to demonstrate how the given premise of their link, particularly in portraying the coastal region they both know intimately, is in line with what Antonio Cornejo Polar (1989) calls "La totalidad literaria como totalidad social". To what extent these two authors contribute to such literary totality as social totality, given the fragmented society of their time and the lack of coastal narratives to reflect it, is a leading question of this study. María Rosa Macedo´s writings, which concentrate primarily on a female zambo character and her rural family, all representative members of coastal racial mixes—especially though not exclusively of African and Indian blood—incorporate them as an incipient nation-building effort, meaningfully aimed at a culturally plural and heterogeneous Peruvian society. While Macedo focuses on the lives of several generations of the descendants of slaves, Sara María Larrabure focuses on their social opposites: landowners who inherited their "casas-haciendas" from a long tradition of established cotton-producing families. Both authors coincide in expressing their "inside" perspectives, which not only reflect an impassable division at the core of the nation's social development, but serve as a mechanism to explore the psychology of why it is so.

The dissertation takes two chronologically opposed thematic tacks to explore their overlapping narratives of the 1940s. On the one hand, it investigates the development of the indigenous movement in Peru, which influenced Macedo´s thinking but does not distinguish her as an indigenous writer per se, as were their contemporaries Ciro Alegría (El mundo es ancho y ajeno, 1941) and José María Arguedas (Yawar fiesta, 1941). Instead, her vision configures zambo and cholo characters in their frontier-like settings of the quebrada, at a higher elevation but also part of the coast, which directly bridges the sierra and urban regions. On the other hand, this research does not find Sara Larrabure only as the most distinctive female representative of “La generación del 50" in Peru. Her foundational contribution in that regard is posed, but such a vision is expanded following a tradition of female writers dating from the three last decades of the 19th century. The feminine thematic contents of her later works are not only present in her early novel, but in this view, they surpass those framed by the mostly male writings of the 1950s. Posthumous works of Sara Larrabure (1963, 1966) are explored here, raising questions on her approach to feminine issues of the post-WWII era. Consequently, this research also reviews answers taken for granted in brief and scarce formal studies of her works. Generally missing from the anthologized record, as are others of their contemporary female authors, the novel of the Peruvian coast claims both authors as their true representatives of the 1940s. Drawn into a closer connection with one another, their texts render—at the very least—the basis for a much larger and profound understanding of the exploited otherness' historical presence, in all aspects of Peruvian life in the mid-twentieth century.