Iracema is one of the three indigenous novels by José de Alencar
José de Alencar
José Martiniano de Alencar was a Brazilian lawyer, politician, orator, novelist and dramatist. He is one of the most famous writers of the first generation of Brazilian Romanticism, writing historical, regionalist and Indianist romances — being the most famous The Guarani...

. It was first published in 1865.

Plot introduction

The story revolves around the relationship between the Tabajara
Tabajara is a nation of indigenous people, who had lived in interior of the Ceará, specially in Serra da Ibiapaba. This name means lord of village from taba village, and jara lord; according to José de Alencar....

 indigenous woman
Indigenous peoples in Brazil
The Indigenous peoples in Brazil comprise a large number of distinct ethnic groups who inhabited the country prior to the European invasion around 1500...

, Iracema; and the Portuguese
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

, Martim
Martim Soares Moreno
Martim Soares Moreno, probably born in 1586, was a Portuguese explorer who defended the interests of the crown in Brazil, fighting French pirates and Dutch invaders during decades....

, who was allied with the Tabajara nation's enemies, the Pitiguaras.

Through the novel Alencar tries to remake the history of the Brazilian colonial state of Ceará's
Ceará is one of the 27 states of Brazil, located in the northeastern part of the country, on the Atlantic coast. It is currently the 8th largest Brazilian State by population and the 17th by area. It is also one of the main touristic destinations in Brazil. The state capital is the city of...

 origins, with Moacir, the son of Iracema and Martim, as the first true Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

ian in Ceará. This pure Brazilian is born from the love of the natural, innocence (Iracema) and culture and knowledge (Martim), and also represents the mixture (miscegenation
Miscegenation is the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations, and procreation....

) of the native race with the European race to produce a new (Brazilian) race.

Explanation of the novel's title

Its name is Guarani language
Guaraní language
Guaraní, specifically the primary variety known as Paraguayan Guaraní , is an indigenous language of South America that belongs to the Tupí–Guaraní subfamily of the Tupian languages. It is one of the official languages of Paraguay , where it is spoken by the majority of the population, and half of...

 for honey-lips, from ira - honey, and tembe - lips. Tembe changed to ceme, as in the word ceme iba, according to the author.

Iracema is also an anagram
An anagram is a type of word play, the result of rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the original letters exactly once; e.g., orchestra = carthorse, A decimal point = I'm a dot in place, Tom Marvolo Riddle = I am Lord Voldemort. Someone who...

 to America, appointed by critics as fitting to the allegorization of colonization of America
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 by Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

ans, the novel's main theme.

Characters in Iracema

  • Andira: Araquém's brother. Old warrior and hero of his people.
  • Araquém: Iracema's father. Spiritual leader of the Tabajara's nation.
  • Batuireté: Poti's grandfather
  • Caubi: Iracema's brother
  • Iracema: Araquém's daughter. She is the beautiful Tabajara woman with honey-lips and dark hair.
  • Irapuã: The warrior leader of the Tabajara nation.
  • Jacaúna: Poti's brother.
  • Jatobá: Poti's father. He is an important veteran warrior of the Pitiguara's nation.
  • Martim: Portuguese colonist. Named in honor of Mars
    Mars (mythology)
    Mars was the Roman god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter, and he was the most prominent of the military gods worshipped by the Roman legions...

    , who was the Roman god of war.
  • Moacir: The child of Martim and Iracema.
  • Poti: Martim's friend and the Pitiguara warrior who is brother of Pitiguara leader.

Iracema and the Indianist Novels

Iracema, alongside with the other novels O Guarani
O Guaraní
O Guaraní is a 1926 Brazilian drama film directed by Vittorio Capellaro based on a novel by José de Alencar.The film premiered in Rio de Janeiro on October 18, 1926.-Cast:*Mazza Amanda Mauceri as Ceci*Gilberto Bianchini*Vittorio Capellaro...

and Ubirajara
Ubirajara (novel)
Ubirajara is one of the indigenous novels by José de Alencar. It was first published in 1874. This name means lord of spear or lancer in English, from ubira - spear, e jara - lord; it accorded José de Alencar....

portrays one of the stages of the formation of the Brazilian ethnical and cultural heritage. Iracema symbolizes the initial meeting between the white man (Europeans) and the natives. Iracema is an anagram which means "America", this is believed to be the author's reference to how Martim (the European) conquered Iracema (or America).
"Moacir" means "Son of Pain", what is related to his birth, alone with his mother, who was abandoned by Martim for some time as he had to go and help the Potiguaras in a tribal war against the Tabajaras.

Awards and nominations

  • There is a Brazilian stamp in honor of Iracema's centennial (1865/1965) and its author.
  • There is a Brazilian painting by Antônio Parreiras
    Antônio Parreiras
    Antônio Parreiras was a Brazilian painter. Although much of his work was made up of historical and nude paintings, he expressed himself best in his landscapes, which combined European influences with those of his native Brazil....

  • Iracema is cited in Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto), which is published in 1928 by Oswald de Andrade
    Oswald de Andrade
    José Oswald de Andrade Souza was a Brazilian poet and polemicist. He was born and spent most of his life in São Paulo....

External links

Academia Brasileira de Letras Brazilian literature
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