Within today’s society, there are several borders that are being uncovered. With all of the events in the news, even in commercials, it is easy to see borders everywhere.
But what are these borders that are around us? How do we know about them?
Based on the sort of things that we are seeing in the news today, we can understand that race, class, sex, age, religion, culture, and so many more. All of these can be traced back to essentially the beginning of civilization.
However, as Signs Preceding the End of the World by Herrera demonstrates, there are several borders that are still applicable today as they were hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
We can clearly see the obvious border that is being discussed in the novel: the border between Mexico and The United States. However, the main border that I wish to discuss is the idea of separation based on gender.
I know, it is silly to go to THAT place. Women are strong and they have a place in the world and SPOILER ALERT they have voices. However, as this book suggests, both men and women are expected to behave in certain ways that fit with certain stereotypes.
For instance, there is a scene in the bathroom when this girl takes Makina’s lipstick and begins to use it. Now normally, if a person were to take something of Makina’s or disrespect her in any way, she would have gone absolutely mental. However, there seems to be some sort of respect between Makina and this woman.
The part that I find is a little wonky is how Herrera portrays this woman. His protagonist in the novel is a little badass girl who will defend herself against any person who goes against her (this mostly includes men who are larger than her which just adds to her total level of badassery), and yet he features a woman who seems to play a role in the old-fashioned stereotype of women.
“She did it slowly and confidently, slid the stick from one side to the other of each lip and then swooped it up as if she’d come to the edge of a cliff, smacked her lips together to even out the color, puckered them for an air kiss. When she was done, still staring into the mirror, the woman said Me? I tell you, I’m gonna start off on the right foot; don’t know if makeup will help but at least no one can say I showed up scruffy, you know?”
Herrera, ri. Signs Preceding the End of the World (Kindle Locations 268-271). And Other Stories Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Now let’s take a look at the roles given to the men in the novel. Some of them are misogynistic, some are respectful, some feel as though they can take advantage of women as objects and get away with it, and some are like Makina’s brother.
We can see through his accounts of the war that he felt out of place when he arrived. How seeing his friends die and not understanding how it happened never really was something that he could get used to (can we blame him?). However, similarly to the Vietnam War, the women expected the men to go to war and do the “masculine” thing, while the women waited at home for their heroes. Unfortunately, while going to war may have elevated their sense of manliness, war in all aspects is not considered an amazing opportunity for the sake of sanity.
“And suddenly you hear your homie died that morning and no one saw where the bullet came from, or you come across a bomb nobody saw get thrown, but there it was, waiting for you. So you gotta go look for them. But when you find them they’re not doing jack and you just gotta believe it was them, they were the ones, otherwise you go nuts”
Herrera, ri. Signs Preceding the End of the World (Kindle Locations 692-695). And Other Stories Publishing. Kindle Edition.
I believe that Herrera does an amazing job in noting the sort of borders that occur in today’s world and providing his readers with a protagonist that is unlike most. She serves as an inspiration for women all over the world and sets forth the idea that no matter one’s sex, fighting against stereotypes is all in a day’s work.