Essay: ‘So Far From God’ by Ana Castillo

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This essay discusses The Various Ideas Conveyed in ‘So Far From God’ by Ana Castillo. Ana Castillo’s So Far from God is a novel mainly concerned with depicting the suffering and pain of women under a system of harsh patriarchal oppression in the macho Chicano/Latino culture however along with this the author takes swipes at various other sources of oppression; targeting colonialism, Christianity and the forced Christianization of the American Natives, the Military-Industrial complex, and the ‘American Dream’.

It is a widely accepted idea in modern day thought that dreams, myths and legends are symbolic manifestations of aspects of the human psyche. The novel So Far from God does not operate strictly in the realm of dreams, legends and myths or in a realistic setting but in a mixture of both. The novel is full of religious elements, some of the fantastical elements of the novel are miracles like those of the Christianity of legendary past, the religion of the novel has syncretic qualities, like the religion of the Native people of Latin America, it is a ostensibly Roman Catholic Christianity but various gods and goddesses from the Aztec past before European discovery are invoked from time to time.

The main characters of So Far from God are Sofi, a Chicano mother and her four daughters Esperanza, Fe, Caridad and La Loca. The names of the main characters are of great importance to the story; and are comments on their fates, sometimes ironic.

Sofi (from ‘Sofia’ meaning Wisdom) raises her daughters alone; the father Domingo is a compulsive gamble who abandoned his family for cockfights, horse races and card games and gambled away all his land (Castillo, 1993, p. 110). Sofi runs the household and a butchers shop named Carne Buena Carnecería which she inherited from her parents (Castillo, 1993, p. 28). They live in the small town of Tome in New Mexico (Castillo, 1993, p. 3). Sofi is an emotionally strong woman and eventually becomes the mayor of Tome, starting various cooperatives schemes for the economic uplift of the people (Castillo, 1993, p. 146). She later founds a spiritual organization Mothers of Martyrs and Saints (M.O.M.A.S) (Castillo, 1993, p. 246).

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