Summarizing Family and Marriage in A Land So Strange

In the novel, “A Land So Strange,” the topic of family and marriage is vaguely mentioned. When the theme does come up though, it shed lights on what family and marriage was like not only for the Spaniards but for Native Americans as well. The author Andres Resendez offers a helpful translation of Cabeza de Vaca’s accounts with different marriages and families in his culture as well as the new world’s.

On page 74, the text states, “Vazquez de Ayllon…had one or more illegitimate children and quite possibly kept a neighbor’s wife in his house as a concubine.” Vasquez de Ayllon was another conquistador during this time period. It’s clear to see that Ayllon did not respect his wife or their marriage and used women for his sexual pleasure. This example portrays a Spaniards relationship and marital life in Spain during the sixteenth century. Although this may not have been what every relationship was like in Spain it can only be assumed due to Vazquez’s high status and power that most men in these positions also followed this lifestyle.

In contrast, some marriage’s such as Navares’s and his wife’s may have actually been filled with love and care. When Navarez goes missing, his wife sends a whole search party (who actually betray and lie to her) for him and would quite possibly have searched for him herself if she were allowed to. This inspiring woman goes through many measures to try and find her husband but to no prevail. Navaraz’s wife is an example of a loving marriage in which a wife truly cared for her husband.

Marriage and Family is not only discussed in the old world, but in the new world as well. Page 162 of a Land So Strange shows Cabeza’s account of the Native men’s view on family and specifically women. “The Mariames’ (an Indian tribe)  disdain for women extended even to their own baby girls, who were often left outside and allowed to be eaten by dogs. The Mariames engaged in female infanticide to deny potential wives to the surrounding (enemy) groups.” This describes a dark custom made by an Indian tribe in which babies (specifically girls) are killed or left to die to ensure that they will not marry another man from an enemies tribe. This depiction is very different from the Old World’s treatment of women and children versus the New World’s.


Since the theme of Family and Marriage is hardly brought up throughout the novel it seems as if it is an afterthought and the focus lies solely on the men. This clearly pushes aside women, family, and marriage, to a minor issue in the men’s lives and journey. Although it is not explicitly states by Resendez, it can be inferred through many examples that women were taken advantage of in both societies.

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About Jovi

Hey everyone, My name is Kyrsten and I'm from Chicago. I have 3 pet dogs and a turtle. I play 5 instruments and I'm majoring in music therapy. I chose Wooster because ( as much as I love my big city) I wanted a small school experience and more one on one learning experiences. I love to travel and explore new places. I'm pretty much a thrift junkie/hoarder. I love buying vintage clothes and jewelry and creating cute and unique looks from them. I look forward to my experience at Wooster as well as meeting all the beautiful people here.

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