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Traditions of Magical Realism in Juan Rulfo’s Short Novel Pedro Paramo

Juan Rulfo’s short novel Pedro Paramo is one of the most eminent Latin American works in literature along with novels by Marquez and Borges. In this respect, the analysis of the novel gives a specific evaluation of it in terms of the traditions of magical realism. The reality which is straightforwardly perceived by people could not fail to be described somewhat as it is in particular by Rulfo. His talent is in that he could implement the gist of the novel through specific characterization of the main heroes along with the inclusions of the 1st and the 3rd person narratives. However, the role of ghosts in the novel is presumably that makes it original in a class by itself. Thus, ghosts in Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo are under the trustworthiness of the Mexican revolution’s failure to live up to initial promises.

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First of all, the overall scope of features in the novel should be understood by dint of the Modernistic manner in adhering to the philosophy of Henry Bergson and Freud as well as to the progressive evaluation of the society as such. However, in Rulfo’s understanding, the main idea seems to fall into the scope of solely social features which are reflected to truly incorporate the fallacies followed by Mexicans. To make it plain, the main character, Juan Preciado, is inclined to find out the mysterious town of Comala. The question is that his destination resides in familiarizing himself with Pedro Paramo, his mother’s former husband (Rulfo 13). This is why it is a challenge now for Juan Preciado to reach out to this initially without any dangerous purpose in his life.

At the very outset, it becomes clear that Preciado is more inclined to make his promise addressed to his dying mother realized afterward. It leads him toward dwelling on some possible reactions and joy after completing the destination. In the book this episode is quite rich in the main notions to scope out the main idea at the outset:

I never meant o keep my promise. But before I knew it my head began to swim with dreams and my imagination took flight. Little by little began to build a world around a hope centered on the man called Pedro Paramo, the man who had been my mother’s husband (Rulfo 12).

In this very except it is obvious the main character symbolizes an ordinary follower of some ideology centered on the figure of Pedro Paramo. Insofar, it is clear to hypothesize it with the people of Mexico who believed in the positive outcomes of the Mexican revolution. Keeping promises is outlined to be vague and far from reasonable estimation. This is why it came out to be an alleged “pit of fallacies” which thereafter paralyzed the society.

An observer might pay attention to the fact that Juan Rulfo masterly implements cross-relational notes on each character (which amount is not so varied). Pedro Paramo has nothing to do but show his rage over the inhabitants in the city. It is an uncontrollable feature that overwhelms him each time he sees a considerable contradiction in the community. It is what everybody knows about this so-called tycoon who rules the town. The thing is that the reality of Comala is considered unreality.

The figures of ghosts are all over when Juan arrives at Comala. It is peculiar to admit that the protagonist realizes this later on. Thus, the horrific pictures of apparitions and eerie ghosts symbolize the figures of betrayed or cheated by the revolutionary promises people. Everything that touches upon power and money is interrelated. The gist of such an assumption lies in the evaluation of what the Revolution brought into the Mexican society. First, it was too long for the country. Second, one should take a look at lost people since the beginning of the Revolution. Finally, it is better to figure out the consequences of this event in the history of Mexico. Constantly changing rulers and executors of power which changed hands in the continuum of the event was harmful for the constructive elaboration internally.

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Hence, turning back to the novel, one should take notice of the parallels between the ghosts and their arrangement around a figure of Juan Preciado. One should speculate on this aspect of analysis by recognizing that Abundio, for example, is a teacher for Juan (Rulfo 28). Dona Eduviges is supposed to be a messenger for Juan (Rulfo 48). It is no wonder that along with the fact of communication with ghosts Preciado sees different murders and hears frightening noises at night. He is doomed to get involved in this machine of death. He is separated from the real good intentions of people he sees.

That is the approval of cruel “dark” times of the Revolution at the start of the twentieth century. Preciado has become a victim of this play of imagination and reality that find out a juxtaposition in Comala. The community of dead people is the illumination of no promising future for Juan’s intentions to come across and get acquainted with his father (who appears to be a father for many other people throughout Comala and neighborhoods) (Seligman 1).

The communication with ghosts leads to the anomie of the main character. This feature becomes apparent as long as Preciado gets used to living among apparitions. However, he admits that they have been oppressed once and got into a trap of fallacies subsequently. The idea is that Pedro Paramo, as the only leader of his community in Comala “erases the boundary between life and death” (Eysteinsson and Liska 953).

That is the point. It is here that Juan gets to know the truth about Comala – it is a desert town that has no value in the shot or long run. This place is a total concentration of no life and no future. It is about the past. However, by mentioning the past one might understand the deeds and their evaluation by people. Nothing good was done by Pedro Paramo. The community used to comply with him, for, otherwise, they could just die (as it happens afterward) with no supply for life.

The helplessness of people emerging on Preciado is definite, for “dead never complain” (Rulfo 139). This is why the protagonist was inclined to terminate his own life to join this society and resolve his issue focused on the figure of Pedro Paramo. At this point in the book, Preciado turns out to be just as done brown. His preliminary intentions were highly-countered, for the idea of his entire life was closer to be materialized. It is the same as finding a firm shelter while being attacked from outside.

That exactly corresponds to the significance of a father in the life of a child. Notwithstanding, the circumstances under which Juan was oppressed are likely to be confronted, as a result of a deep faith in deceitful reality of Comala. In turn Juan Rulfo correlates it toward a mixed-up reality of the Revolution which turned into a whole mess leading people to vague purposes appreciated by a group of people, not by the whole nation. In this definite prospect one embraces a pity conversation of Preciado with the Comala’s priest:

Then there are our sins on top of theirs. None of us still living is in God’s grace. We can’t lift our eyes, because they are filled with shame. And shame doesn’t help (Rulfo 67).

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Here one sees the truth of the entire non-approval of actions done by people in Comala. They believed they could become better off due to Pedro Paramo. Instead, they have achieved their destinies broken. It is Rulfo that could so vividly express a personal opinion in such a critical shape. Nonetheless, ghosts are everywhere. They are aimed at signifying the truth about Comala as about Juan Preciado. In this aspect of the conversation, further discussion encounters the essence of personal concern about the reality in Comala. To make it different, an observer should reveal the images the protagonist meets on his way as the holistic representation of lost souls interwoven into the vortex of desperation.

The violence after the falling tyranny of Porfirio Diaz did not stop in Mexico. One uprising changed another one during Cristero Rebellion (Werner 686). This is surely embodied in the main idea of the novel. Pedro Paramo is the symbol of naïve thinking that something new and progressive can shift everything for the better. As might be seen from the historical discourse, it was not that good for the Mexican formation of the nation. Preciado is buried in his dreams to get into his father.

The conversation seems to be conducted out of the grave somewhere deeper underneath the ground. That evaluates Preciado as another dead man who dared join the community of suchlike non-existent people. Thus, such an observation of the novel gives substantial grounds to prove the idea of moral and humane values to be paramount. By contrast, without such values secured within the society, there is no points for physical existence and material amenities as well. People are not better off if they ignore the norms of ideological trustworthiness. In other words, a leader is one who surpasses expectations of the subordinates for better in any way.

Continuing the idea of different (mostly negative) features of the novel, it is quite necessary to remark ghosts’ coming to a conclusion of fake character of what they were doing before. In general terms, “fake” is demonstrated on the example of populist claims of leaders and in naïve attitudes of subordinates. As long as Preciado is helpless to get out of the Comala’s trap, he considers it his own fake, so to speak. What is more, Preciado seems to slowly embrace the nature of Comala, as “un lugar sobre las brasas” (a place of burning embers)” (Werner 686). It highlights a thought of a destructed community led to dying horribly and burning sullenly.

Initially wrong directions cannot lead to something good. However, Juan Preciado was of different opinion about that, even though he did not realize that the mother’s claim to find out Pedro Paramo was a means to get involved into an obscure reality of cries, murders, violence, and massacre of any kind. The murmurs of ghosts remind about the dangers of revolution which are imposed into the innocent deaths.

This is why Rulfo’s narrative is so impressive and patterned with more attention to some transformation pursuant to magical realism. What is more, Rulfo shapes the reality to be more than just real, in fact. It is he who could represent the true side of the Revolution incorporated into the literature. His adornment by the style he wrote Pedro Paramo is explicitly felt throughout the whole story. His approach in delineating ghosts as the consequences of peoples’ destinies after the Revolution is quite critical and deserves even more attention.

It would be right if Juan Preciado was not so seduced by the idea of visiting Comala and Pedro Paramo. All his intentions were not worth doing such convincing steps toward personal decline as applied to overall non-existence of the town. It is irrational to find out life where it is not projected initially. The focal idea of being a part of the Comala society clashed in every point of social life. Preciado get confused in this “bizarre play of life” so as he could not find out salvation among ghosts and terrible things adjusted to the place of Comala. A deserted nature of the town has prescribed its estimation as of no value as compared to other towns around. As strange as Comala may seem, everything related to it is of no life:

It was as if the earth existed in a vacuum. No sound: not even of my breathing or the beating of my heart. As if the very sound of consciousness had been stilled (Rulfo 47).

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Such an atmosphere of prostration was a signal for Preciado. However, he did not mind it at all. That is the peculiarity which characterizes people during the revolution who blindly claim for one party neglecting the safety of another one. In this respect the Revolution in Mexico did harm to the nation. In the course of time, the bygone sorrows became almost trite, but Rulfo depicted the threats given by the Revolution as such.

The tragedy of Juan Preciado is in the fact that he is not allowed more rights to turn everything around. It was possible, perhaps, if Preciado was no so delirious about the idea of going to Comala. Nonetheless, he always hears cries and begging in a sad and humiliated tone: “You owe me something, even if it’s nothing more than a hanged man’s right to a last word” (Rulfo 47). Alas, for the sake of interest of one influential man the rest of people must comply with the demands of the first.

To sum up, the short novel by Juan Rulfo Pedro Paramo sparks interest of a reader in terms of the failure of Mexican Revolution as referred to the figures of ghosts in the book. The overall evaluation of mysticism chosen by Rulfo in the novel provides many pints on attraction owing to the setoff symbols and metaphors that he used.

Works Cited

Eysteinsson, Ástráður and Vivian Liska. Modernism. Vol. 2. New York, NY: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2007.

Rulfo, Juan. Pedro Páramo. Trans. Margaret Sayers Peden. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

Seligman, Johanna. Juan Rulfo and his novel, Pedro Páramo. 2009. Web.

Werner, Michael S. Concise encyclopedia of Mexico. London: Taylor & Francis, 2001.

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