Dying of Hunger (Mexico, 1926) - Elena Álvarez

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Child breastfeeding, Tina Modotti, 1929, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México (INAH).

Dying of Hunger (Muerta de hambre, 1926) by Elena Álvarez. Translation by May Summer Farnsworth, Camila García, and Erin Griffis.

Original Spanish: Álvarez, Elena. Dos dramas revolucionarios: Muerta de hambre y Un diálogo doloroso. Ediciones de la Liga de Escritores Revolucionarios, Mexico, 1926. Link to Spanish text: Muerta de hambre (Digitizing sponsor: Google).


Elena Álvarez’s play, Dying of Hunger (Muerta de hambre), expresses anticlerical sentiments in Mexico's revolutionary period. Here, hypocritical churchgoers step over a dying woman and her small child while on their way to worship. Álvarez’s revolutionary character promotes a form of liberation theology by suggesting that “Jesus Christ would not have shut the doors of the church to a woman who was dying of hunger.”


DEVOUT WOMAN 1: These young girls have no consideration: look how the baby is lying on the ground. And she's drunk!

DEVOUT WOMAN 2: That’s the reason for so much misfortune. It is raining fire from the sky in Milan.

God our Lord has to punish such impudence and such corruption, especially when it happens outside His church.

DEVOUT WOMAN 1: Oh, sister, the world needs us because these women behave in a way that offends our Lord. Let’s pray before the altar and ask forgiveness for all sinners.

DEVOUT WOMAN 1: Of course they’re living in misery. How could she expect protection from God when she offends him like this?

DEVOUT WOMAN 2: They don’t even deserve charity.

DEVOUT WOMAN 1: Let's see. Cover her up and everything that can be seen. Tell her to cover herself because she’s at the door of the house of God.

DEVOUT WOMAN 2: I’d get my hands dirty and stained with sin just by touching her.

Translators' Note:

We find it important for the readers to know that Dying of Hunger depicts cruelty, abuse, assault, and offensive language to women. Aside from that challenge, the dialogue and stage notes are straightforward and we translated them with minimal difficulty.

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May Summer Farnsworth, Camila García, and Erin Griffis, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 2022.

"Dying of Hunger" PDF: 

Dying of Hunger  (4).pdf


May Summer Farnsworth, Camila García, and Erin Griffis, translators,
“Dying of Hunger (Muerta de Hambre, 1926) by Elena Álvarez,” galeriahispana.omeka.net,
Feminist Revivals, Spanish and Hispanic Studies Digital Gallery at HWS, 2022.
Dying of Hunger (Mexico, 1926) - Elena Álvarez