Summarizing Reséndez focusing on Family and Marriage

In A Land So Strange, written by Andrés Reséndez, the topic of family and marriage is not one that is highly elaborated on. In fact, the topic of women, children and family lifestyles is not mentioned until Chapter three and is not discussed in detail until after that. I think Reséndez’s lack of discussion about and involvement of women and the family unit says a lot about how family and marriage were thought about during the time period and specifically on the expedition. As the book and expedition progress, the idea and theme of family and marriage feels almost as an after thought, as if the concept is placed on the back burner while the highlights of the men’s expedition are in the spotlight. Though women and families are not shown as being the most significant aspects in the novel, each of the few4 times that the theme was brought up, it was depicted differently. The first mention of a woman was the “neighbor’s wife in [Vázquez de Ayllón’s] house as a concubine” (74). This implies that women were objects to be kept for sexual pleasures, an idea that was popular through out the time period. The second mention of women portrays them as being fickle at the heart and not truly valuing the ideals of marriage that we hold ourselves to today. Reséndez shows that the wives could not show commitment to their husbands as they explored the lands of the New World; instead the wives of the men opted to “give up on their land-bound husbands and even urged [themselves] to seek protection immediately among the crew members, who would reman on the ships with them” (89). These are ideals that we do not stand by today; in today’s society, we practice long marriage and sticking with the same partner through sickness and health. Reséndez’s depiction of the Mariame families is much different than the European family depiction. These households treat women and mothers like slaves, and daughters as burdens that should be sacrificed for the well being the family (162).

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