La Malinche, Malintzin, and originally, doña Marina — this is a fascinating Nahua woman in Mexican history who was given to Hernando Cortés in 1519 as a slave, probably with the intention that she cook, act as nurse, and also provide sexual companionship to him and/or his crew of invaders from Spain. Cortés soon found out that she spoke two indigenous languages and had a facility for interpreting, so her job shifted in that direction.
Some indigenous-authored manuscripts provide us with images that supposedly capture some of her activities, and Spaniards such as Cortés and Bernal Díaz del Castillo mention her in their writings. Sadly, we do not have historical documents that convey to us her own voice.
For centuries after she lived and died, people have developed a discourse around this woman and her story, taking it in a variety of directions, positive, negative, and in between. Such materials — literary narratives, poetry, songs, images, and films — can tell us perhaps more about their creators than about her true story. Such materials provide insights into the evolving thinking about her role in history and about ways of viewing her — as indigenous, as female, as one who symbolizes the progenitor of mixed heritage Mexicans, and more.