This essay argues that Maríía Amparo Ruiz de Burton's 1885 novel The Squatter and the Don combines elements of realism and sentimentalism, articulating a realist mode of sympathy that is directed toward the novel's Californio characters. As U.S. citizens who are dispossessed of property and citizenship rights in the wake of the Mexican American War, the Californios register various forms of personal and material loss, albeit analytically and self-consciously. Through the invocation of hybrid emotions, which carry the cultural inflections of both Anglo and Californio traditions, Ruiz de Burton's novel enriches a critical understanding of realism's intervention in a contentious late-nineteenth-century debate about difference in relation to U.S. national and racial identities. Moreover, the novel undercuts a mode of realism devoted to scenic (and, hence, material) detail. By presenting emotional rather than scenic vistas and by highlighting familial and communal bonds in contrast to an exaggerated, capitalist attachment to property (amply demonstrated by the novel's squatter characters), The Squatter and the Don presents affect as a means of understanding the structures of citizenship neglected by U.S. corporations, land commissions, and citizens who colonize California and claim it on behalf of a capitalist nation.
- 2008 by The Regents of the University of California