Thursday, February 3, 2011

Archetypes in Guatemalan Cultural Literature

We are studying archetypes in our fifth grade literature classes right now. I didn't realize how many of these existed in Guatemalan literature.

An archetype, by the way, is an original model of a person, ideal example, or a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated; a symbol universally recognized by all. Archetype refers to a generic version of a personality.

Hero archetype power point explanations available here:

Archetypes generally follow this pattern:
1.Unusual Circumstances of Birth (Unusual Birth Often in danger or born into royalty)
2.Traumatic Event Leads to Quest
3.Special Weapon (Only the hero can wield it )
4.Supernatural Help -The hero often has spiritual guidance
5.Leaves Family Raised away from… -or separated from home
6.Traumatic Event The hero’s life is changed forever…
7.Proves self on Quest- The hero performs heroic feats
8.Journey and Unhealable Wound- Hero descends into a hell- like area and suffers wounding from an encounter with evil
9.Atonement With Father- The hero either redeems father’s evil deeds or reconciles with father over wrongs done by the hero
10.Spiritual Apotheosis- Hero is rewarded spiritually at the end of his, or her life

*Not every hero has all of the characteristics! That’s okay. -They don’t really have to… As long as a hero displays several of these characteristics, he, or she, is in the club!

We are studying archetypes in these four categories: tradition, myth, era and culture.

Archetypes in Guatemalan Tradition and Culture:
True Story of Tecun Uman

Finding the archetypal pattern in Guatemalan Myth.
For MUCH more detail go to:

A shorter summary of the Popol Vuh Twin Myth at:

Comparing the Hero Archetype in Different Guatemalan Eras:
Then we compare the fighting hero from the Tecun Uman era to Justo Barrios in the 1800s.

Justo Rufino Barrios (July 19, 1835 – April 2, 1885) was a President of Guatemala known for his liberal reforms and his attempts to reunite Central America.

I love how we are integrating stories they have heard in Spanish class into their English curriculum! It makes learning much richer when it is tied to something that resonates from ones culture with familiarity.

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