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“How To Tame a Wild Tongue” and Katherine Dunham’s “Thesis Turned Broadway.”


Language is undervalued nowadays. Language conveys thoughts, feelings, and personality. Gloria Anzalda’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” and Katherine Dunham’s “Thesis Turned Broadway” examine words’ power. Both authors explore how American identity and culture may be used to fight injustice. Anzalda’s first-person narrative of her tribulations as a young Mexican-American woman in Texas, where she was reared and taught to control her “wild tongue” by pretending she didn’t speak Spanish, is compelling. Dunham discusses how she learnt about Haitian culture and created a unique Broadway musical in her thesis (Ulysse, Gina Athena. 67). Both authors emphasize the need to know one’s native Language and culture to reinforce one’s identity and oppose oppression. This thesis will analyze and contrast Anzalda and Dunham’s articles on Language, culture, identity, and fighting US oppression. This article will examine how these works reflect US cultural transformations in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. This article compares and contrasts the writers’ literary tactics to examine the Language and culture in both works.

Analysis of Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”

Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” is a powerful and evocative essay that uses many literary tropes to get its point through. Using metaphors, Anzaldua shows the tension between her Chicana identity and her desire to “tame a wild tongue.” One of the images she uses is that the Spanish Language is a “serpent” that she is “trying to domesticate.” Anzaldua draws parallels between taming her wild tongue with taming a wild animal, implying that doing so is practically impossible. Anzaldua also uses images to let the reader feel what she is writing about in her essay. She talks about the “Babylonian jumble” of languages that Chicanas like herself must learn to speak. This metaphor helps the reader see the nuances of her identity and her fight to “tame a wild tongue.” Anzaldua’s use of metaphor and imagery to convey her point is powerful. Anzaldua adds an emotional depth to her article by drawing parallels between her battle to control her unruly tongue and the challenge of taming a wild animal.

Similarly, she uses images to help readers understand how her identity is a “Babylonian jumble,” making it easier for them to sympathize with her situation. Anzaldua uses metaphors and images to make her point emotionally, evocatively and straightforwardly. Anzaldua’s use of literary tropes has clear connotations; they serve as an efficient manner of relaying her experience to the reader. Anzaldua brings her experience to life through metaphors and images for her readers. This is crucial because it allows her audience to feel connected and understand her plight. Anzaldua’s message is emotionally compelling and simple, thanks to her use of literary methods. This allows her readers to empathize with her and better understand the nuances of her identity.

Analysis of Katherine Dunham’s “Thesis Turned Broadway”

An examination of the value of culture in contemporary American society and its manifestation in the arts, “Thesis Turned Broadway” by Katherine Dunham. Dunham uses a wide range of literary techniques to emphasize the influence of culture on individual expression and to illustrate her arguments. Dunham used metaphor and simile to make her article more resonant with the reader. She creates an impression of thriving cultural expression via her vivid descriptions of different African diasporic groups’ music, dancing, and costumes. The vivid descriptions she employs help the reader appreciate the aesthetic value of works from many other civilizations. Dunham uses personification to further stress the significance of culture to the American way of life (Bickel, Barbara & Bickel 74). She is a living embodiment of the importance of culture to the American way of life. She suggests that culture is more than an aesthetic object; it influences people’s daily lives. In her piece, Dunham also uses metaphors. She said the arts are like a “universal language” that can unite people despite their differences. “The beauty of cultural expression is that it transcends language,” she says, meaning that communication barriers may be broken down via the arts. Dunham’s article effectively demonstrates the influence of culture on American society thanks to the literary tactics she employs. Her vivid description and metaphor help the reader see the aesthetic value and personal significance of works of art from many different civilizations. The relevance of American culture and its influence on individuals’ lives are emphasized via her use of personification. Lastly, her analogies show how the arts may foster cross-cultural understanding. In the end, Dunham’s use of literary tropes successfully underlines the significance of culture to American society and the capacity of the skills to unite individuals.

Comparison of Literary Devices in the Two Texts

Katherine Dunham’s thesis “Thesis Turned Broadway” and Gloria Anzaldua’s “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” have similarities and differences in their literary strategies. The writers use metaphors, images, and symbolism to drive home their points throughout both works. In her essay, Anzaldua examines the power and tyranny of Language, while in her thesis, Dunham delves into her time spent in the performing arts. In her article, Anzaldua uses metaphors to talk about who she is and the challenges she’s experienced because of the Language she speaks. She says her native tongue is “wild” and “disobedient,” drawing parallels to a savage. The metaphor highlights the oppressive nature of Language and its impact on others who speak differently. Anzaldua uses metaphor and simile to drive home her point (Williams, Sue Lynn n/p). In describing her life and the challenges she’s experienced because of her Language, she uses striking phrases like “the more I tried to suppress my wild tongue, the more it expressed itself” to evoke a vivid image of her situation. This metaphor helps readers empathize with her plight and see the significance of Language in her life. Throughout the article, Anzaldua uses symbols to drive home her point further. The fact that she calls her native tongue a “tongue” is a powerful representation of her individuality and cultural heritage.

Dunham also employs analogies from the performing arts in her argument. She says her life “has been a journey of learning and growing and becoming,” drawing parallels between the two concepts. This allegory highlights her development through her performing arts involvement (Bickel 209). Dunham frequently used symbolism to drive home her point. For example, she writes, “I felt the stage come alive with the energy of my movements,” which gives a vivid image of her time spent performing. The use of vivid imagery helps readers empathize with her situation and grasp the significance of the arts in her life. Dunham uses symbols to add weight to her argument throughout the whole thesis. She sees the stage as a “sacred space” because of the importance it has for her as an artist. Gloria Anzaldua and Katherine Dunham use metaphors, images, and symbolism to express their message, but to different degrees and in different ways. In her essay, Anzaldua examines the power and tyranny of Language, while in her thesis, Dunham delves into her time spent in the performing arts. These literary strategies help the reader comprehend the significance of their experience in shaping who they are.

Discussion of Themes and Cultural Significance

Identity and belonging are major themes in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” by Gloria Anzaldua and “Thesis Turned Broadway” by Katherine Dunham. While Anzaldua writes about the difficulties of being a Chicana woman in the United States in the 1970s, Dunham writes about the challenges of being a black performer on Broadway in the 1950s (Figueroa, Brianna Lynn 97). Both writers examine assimilation, exclusion, and the need to be accepted. These concerns echo the larger cultural context of the period and shed light on the plight of marginalized groups in a constantly evolving America. Both books stress the significance of coming to terms with and celebrating one’s unique individuality, despite cultural and social pressures to do otherwise.


The methods utilized by Gloria Anzalda in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue” and Katherine Dunham in “Thesis Turned Broadway” have been discussed throughout this article. Analyzing the texts in detail made it clear that the writers used various strategies to get their points through. Both writers employed Language to vent their anger at the restrictive social structures under which they were forced to operate. Reclaiming her voice from a system that wanted to silence her, Anzalda employed imagery, symbolism, and personification to deliver her message. Dunham emphasized her message of resiliency and tenacity in the face of adversity via tone and repetition. The cultural shifts of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s in the United States may be better understood by comparing the works of these two writers. Both writers demonstrated a need for independence and defiance of authoritarian structures. Undeniably, both of these writers’ writings have had far-reaching effects throughout the United States. Both of these books demonstrate how literature and Language may be used to affect change and criticize unjust regimes.

Works Cited

Bickel, B. Art, ritual, and trance inquiry. Springer International Publishing, 2020. pp. 207-212

Bickel, Barbara A., and Barbara A. Bickel. “Artists and Trance.” Art, Ritual, and Trance Inquiry: Arational Learning in an Irrational World (2020): 73-92.

Figueroa, Brianna Lynn. Ballet Hispánico: constructing Latinx identity through concert dance. Diss. 2018. p. 84-120

Ulysse, Gina Athena. “Why Rasanblaj, Why Now? New Salutations to the Four Cardinal Points in Haitian Studies.” Journal of Haitian Studies 23.2 (2017): 58-80.

Williams, Sue Lynn. TOWARDS LIBERATION: THE POWER OF ART IN STRUGGLES AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE. Diss. San Francisco State University, 2020. n/p.


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