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Response Essay.

Song of the Hummingbird is a 1996 novel which describes the fall of the Aztecs at the

hands of Cortes and the Spanish Conquerors. The author Graciela Limon develops his book by

incorporating a character, an indigenous old woman by the name Hummingbird (Huitzitzilin)

who narrates the story to a young priest Father Benito. Father Benito realizes the version does

not match with whatever he had learned in school. The author's choice of a young man

specifically a monk and an old indigenous old woman wanted to explain the main point of

culture and disrupting elements that have emerged in these recent times. Historically, the book

brings to light the matter of the church and powerful nations stripping cultures of their language,

cultural practices, and their true identities that are their names. Father Benito in various ways is

used as an embodiment of the church and Spain while the old lady represents the indigenous

culture of the Mexicans. While the monk thinks they did a favor to the Mexicans in the

disruption of their culture which they saw to be primitive and instilled them with civilization,

the old lady view this in a different perspective. She sees it as victimization and disintegration of

their culture which was important to them thus creating a culture clash which is the main point of

concern in this essay.


Song of the Humming Bird demonstrates the concept of culture clash and the extreme

extent these clashes can go. In her opening notes Limon writes "like most of her people, she

experienced the awe caused by those bearded men when they first arrived. A wonderment that

soon gave way to the outrage of seeing the devastation of her land, the disruption of her life, and

the end of civilization as she knew it."The author illustrates how cultures like that of the Aztec

can quickly diminish whenever they interact with other cultures which have a limited

understanding of some subjects. From the novel, the reader can see the Spaniards marching with

horses, superior technology, and advanced armor. The Aztecs were willing to make peace with

the Spaniards when they approached the gate, but when the Spaniards became aggressive, the

Aztecs had to retaliate. The author portrays the Spaniards not wanting to understand the Mexica

people (Aztecs) culture, but they saw human sacrifice as an act deeply related to Satanism.

Graciela Limon tries to elaborate to us the need to treat and understand each other better. The

Spaniards did not make any attempt to understand why the Aztecs had many gods for different

occasions. The Spaniards ought to have taken steps to know the Mexica people and avoid culture

clash and eventually war which resulted in the loss of lives and disintegration of the Mexica

culture. The need for understanding someone before making conclusions reminds me of when I

was young, and my dad had to punish me for peeing in the garden. In my perspective, I had not

done anything wrong, and I decided to run away from home to the next neighbors until dad

called me at the top of his voice. He explained to me why he had punished me and the need for

me to be responsible.

At the same time in my life's journey, I have seen how there is a need for one to have a

firm stand in what one believe in just like in the Song of the Hummingbird it is true

Hummingbird is a woman of her stand. Despite seeing the Spaniards coming to Mexica and

conquering their culture and religion Hummingbird doesn't accept the Catholicism and remains

deeply bonded to her culture and religion which she considers to be ancient and strong compared

to the Spaniard religion which she describes it as young. " Our spirits will never be commanded

by your young God"-Hummingbird (210). The forceful justification of Catholicism as the true

religion compared to what the Aztecs believed can be termed as hypocritical as in the process it

led to the violation of the holiest rule in the Ten Commandments "Thou Shall not Kill." The

forced Aztec Catholics were given baptismal names, and it is evident that Hummingbird didn't

like the baptismal name as she got furious when Father Benito asked her of her baptismal name."

Have I upset you?" (62) asked Father Benito " Yes" (62) said Hummingbird "It's my obligation

to know these things about you." (62) said, Father Benito. " What things?” (62) declared Father

Benito. " You mean you have to make sure that I have been robbed of everything even my

name."(62) Said Hummingbird. This proves that though Hummingbird converted to Catholicism,

she prefers to go by her real name Huitzitzilin (Hummingbird). Hummingbird has not accepted

Catholicism but instead has kept her real beliefs in secret and will always believe in her original

religion. Hummingbird is angry because the Spaniards robbed her people's religion, traditions,

and culture. Humming notes several times that she dislikes the Spaniards for instance when she

says "when your captains and your four-legged beasts came across the waters to infest our

world" is a clear indication that she detested the foreign influence. From Hummingbird's

character, it strengthens my belief in the need to stand with what you always believe as that tend

to be the right thing and no one has the right to deviate from what you think thus an essential tool

in critical thinking and decision making.

I liked the lesson of being understanding in the "Song of the Hummingbird" which is

displayed by Father Benito. Despite his predecessors forcefully imparting Catholicism to the

Aztecs, Father Benito takes his time to understand Hummingbird's religion and culture through

their daily meetings. Father Benito had a different version of the history of the Conquest, but

through listening to he get to understand the reality of what happened and in this we realize that

most writers of history tend to favor on their side thus the truth remains hazy. But the author uses

characters like Father Benito who can re-write this history due to their civilized way of approach.

Though Benito believed in Jesus and Hummingbird in her idols, Benito gave her a listening and

at one point Hummingbird chanted a cultural prayer when they were together living Father

Benito to fear that it would bring the Devil into the room. I like this because being

understanding to each other especially where people of different backgrounds are involved is

essential since it alleviates unnecessary misunderstandings among the parties involved. Father

Benito character of listening and understanding is important in my life as it helps to remove that

perspective of thinking that things are supposed to be the way they are, but instead one should

delve into finding the reality.

As a student, I have seen how "Song of the Hummingbird " can teach history and the

aspect of using moderation in the quest of inducing civilization to societies deemed to be

uncivilized. Graciela Limon work is a great novel which digs dip in history and outlines to us the

conquest of Mexica from the local native people thus enriching my view on this critical

encounter of Europe with America.

In conclusion, there is a need for people to treat each other with respect. Otherwise,

civilization will be a downfall. From the novel, the aggressive nature of the Spaniards can be

termed as a wrong move as they could have handled the situation better. Limon tried to point out

that if civilization can't incorporate the aspect of respecting each other, then they can't coexist

together. This book is highly recommended for students in senior high school this is because of

the need to understand each other which is greatly exhibited in the novel. I will remember more

about this book on Father Benito's means of approaching Hummingbird and his tolerance on her

despite them holding antagonizing views on the aspect of religion. Father Benito goes opposite

with the norms, and of what is expected thus through his nature we get to understand the true

revelation of the effects of the Conquest. I liked the quote "He was intrigued as well as confused

because he had not imagined that the natives of this land could be so complex. Above all, he was

astounded at being repelled yet attracted to her." It is a quote which shows a character who has

undergone self-realization and is now seeing the truth despite the scholarly articles and history he

has read back home concerning these people who were regarded lesser. In short, it's a turning

point towards realizing equality among races in the world. Being an interesting novel, I will loan

my copy to my young brother in junior high school because it clearly brings out history and

reality which happens to be his area of interest.