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The J-List Literary Fictional Favorite Characters/ Teresa Mendoza

Updated on February 9, 2016

The Queen of the South (cover)

Author's copy
Author's copy | Source

J-List Summary


Character Teresa Mendoza

Story Queen of the South (2002)

Author Arturo Pérez-Reverte

J-List # 6

A markersinaloa -
Sinaloa, Mexico
get directions

Where her story began

Life gave Teresa Mendoza lemons and she made lemonade… with a vengeance. Teresa, better known by her alias, “the queen of the south”, took her lemons and squeezed out lemonade using an ingredient mixture of good fortune and even better fortitude. As a result, she transformed from a mild mannered girlfriend of a Sinaloa drug cartel pilot (Güero Dávila) into a mysterious, enterprising femme fatale who would become her majesty of the Mediterranean.

Güero’s antics, one high flying stunt too many, sowed the tart lemon seeds that Teresa soon reaped. She found herself in trouble with the cartel in general and Don Epifanio Vargas in particular. The don, who rose out of poverty by lifting himself up by his bullet straps, was the kind of man other men admire due to his success and displaying the traits embodied by a man’s man. Whereas he was a man’s man, Teresa did him one better: for she was a man’s women. She was both soldier and siren wrapped in a deceptively seductive package. Teresa was that invincible combination of admirable and desirable

Teresa's story has been adopted as a telenova. Kate del Castillo shown here plays the part of the "queen of the south."
Teresa's story has been adopted as a telenova. Kate del Castillo shown here plays the part of the "queen of the south." | Source

Lemon Lows and Lemonade Highs

Teresa Mendoza’s biopic included several instances in which she took lemon like crisis and turned these into lemonade like opportunities. The following list includes the primary examples:

Lemons

The cartel kills her boyfriend and then comes after her.

Lemonade

Teresa escapes to Spain where she begins a new life and early on she use her knack for numbers to improve her lot in life.

Lemons

Fate brings her another drug runner boyfriend while in Spain. (Santiago Fisterra) It appears like here she goes again.

Lemonade

Teresa rather than settle for being a sheltered mistress to the life of which her boyfriend was wedded decides to become part of the action. This led her to learn nuts and bolts skills that would prove useful in later adventures.

Lemons

She was marooned at sea, served a stint in prison and endured a harrowing confrontation with a Russian mobster.

Lemonade

She survives, meets people key to her ascent and lays the financial foundation to become LaReina del Sur- Queen of the South.

The J List – Top 10 Literary Fictional Favorite Characters


1. Gabriel “Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953) James Baldwin

2. Miss Clara “The War Room” (2015) Chris Fabry et al

3. Hawkeye “The Last of the Mohicans” (1826) James Fenimore Cooper

4. Julie “Julie of the Wolves” (1972) Jean Craighead George

5. Atticus Finch “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) Harper Lee

6. Teresa Mendoza “Queen of the South” (2002) Arturo Perez-Reverte

7. Patria Mercedes Mirabel “In the Time of the Butterflies” (1994) Julia Alvarez

8. Mathu “A Gathering of Old Men” (1983) Ernest J Gaines

9. Yusuf Ali aka ‘Professor Rat’ “ The Washington Square Ensemble” (1984) Madison Smartt Bell

10. Bagheera “ The Jungle Book” (1894) Rudyard Kipling

A markerstrait of gibralter -
Strait of Gibraltar
get directions

The strait of Gibraltar links the Atlantic with the Mediterranean and as such linked Teresa's lowly past in Mexico with her ascent to power in Spain.

Kate del Castillo, the telemundo  Teresa is alleged to have helped Sean Penn get the interview with  " El Chapo" , a real life drug kingpin.
Kate del Castillo, the telemundo Teresa is alleged to have helped Sean Penn get the interview with " El Chapo" , a real life drug kingpin. | Source

The Code

The code that Teresa chose to live by provided the secret sauce, lemony nectar that sweetened the drink she made of her life that had as its origins the bitter fruit life had tossed her way. The code was not base upon morality as such but rather a sense of natural order. Still, her belief in this order made sense of the world and contained a nearly accidental element of morality. Teresa is still relatively young when the kingdom she built upon lemon ruins appears to cease. It appears the world’s foremost lemonade stand owner may have more adventures in more books to come.

Teresa Mendoza can be best described in the mathematical language to which she was so innately drawn: Admirable + desirable = irresistible.


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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Interesting read and very unique!

    • justthemessenger profile image
      Author

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      Thank you for reading and your comment. I found Teresa Mendoza to be very interesting and unique.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Your #4 is my #1, but a good list nonetheless. Thanks for introducing me to Teresa!

    • justthemessenger profile image
      Author

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      Atticus is special. Julie and he were my #s 1 and 2 before I read James Baldwin's classic. But, I didn't write the list down way back then. Thanks for your input.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I love your lemons/lemonade/lemons/lemonade analysis. It makes the plot simple for someone who hasn't read the book.

    • justthemessenger profile image
      Author

      James C Moore 2 years ago from The Great Midwest

      Yes, Teresa made the best out of a bad situation. I am always glad to introduce hubbers to my favorite characters.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 23 months ago from Philippines

      She sure is beautiful and street smart, too. Way to go, Teresa. What's more, she has the same name as my sister, hahahaha. Very informative and enjoyable article.

    • justthemessenger profile image
      Author

      James C Moore 23 months ago from The Great Midwest

      It's always nice when a good character shares a name with a family member. Thanks for your input.

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