Rigoberta’s mother is a keeper of traditions and the old ways of doing things. A traditional Indian healer, she has an intimate relationship with nature, knowing, for example, when it’s about to rain or the best time to sow crops. Although not articulate in political affairs, she is able to weave protest into simple acts, such as tending to guerilla soldiers when they are ill or cooking for protesters. Her influence on Rigoberta is subtle. Though Rigoberta considers her father to have far more impact on her evolution, she continues to obey her mother in certain powerful ways, such as continuing to dress in traditional Indian apparel, which profoundly affects her interactions with others.
Throughout I, Rigoberta Menchu, Rigoberta’s mother exhibits a high level of endurance, gracefully bearing difficult trials, such as watching her children die, one by one, in sometimes violent ways. She is able to absorb difficult experiences, whereas Rigoberta’s father sometimes runs away or drinks to deal with trauma. Even as she approaches death, Rigoberta’s mother exhibits strength and courage that last, and this point is driven home by the way the earth slowly absorbs her body after she dies—she doesn’t disappear immediately.