This essay explores the often-overlooked affective discourse that emerges from a close reading of the Mexican and European American women in the first Native American novel, John Rollin Ridge's sensational dime novel The Life and Adventures of Joaquíín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit (1854). Through their investment in sentimental tropes such as the tearful scene, the angelic figure, and the untimely fainting fit, these women enact what I term a transamerican sentimental diplomacy that counters the attempt of the novel's men to define the United States via a nationalistic violence (the legacy of the U.S.-Mexican War). Through their tears, pleas, and actions, the women test the cultural and political milieu of the newly minted state of California. While the women's promotion of a peaceful paradigm for borderland interaction ultimately falls short, its undeniable presence is an important counterweight to the sensational violence in Joaquíín Murieta that has thus far captivated critics.
- John Rollin Ridge
- The Life and Adventures of Joaquíín Murieta
- 2008 by The Regents of the University of California