In Rosario Castellanos's short story "Modesta Gómez," we see how a girl named Modesta with bright dreams for the future has them destroyed first by a wealthy family and then by her working-class husband. Destitute and desperate, she becomes an "ambusher" (atajadora), someone who preys on a lower class – the "Indians". These women attack the darker-skinned indigenous people on their way to market, beat them until they give up their goods, and then, as if to justify themselves, hand over a few coins as "payment."
Racial dynamics certainly are a key theme in the story, but normally when I think of racism, I think of unfairly discriminating against someone because of their skin color, or taking advantage of someone's low social standing for one's own gain. Modesta Gómez's actions can certainly be characterized that way, but she goes even further – as she is assaulting an young indigenous woman in order to take her wool blanket, she yells:
You damn Indian! Now you're going to pay me for everything!
¡India desgraciada, me lo tenés que pagar todo junto!
I don't understand why Modesta is demanding payment – recompense? – from the girl. Nowhere in the story do indigenous people persecute her in any way. Yet it seems as if she is here blaming them for the crimes perpetuated against her by the wealthy and middle class.
Given that this line marks the climax of the story, I'm sure it's essential to the author's point. Why does Rosario Castellanos have her protagonist demanding payment from the "Indian" girl?
English quotation from The Mexico Reader (2002), 552. Spanish from Ciudad Real.