Interpretation of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo
Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo is a story of three dominant characters: Pedro Páramo, Juan Preciado and Susana San Juan. From Juan Preciado’s point of view, the book presents the story of a son who is in search of retribution and identity. Dolores Preciado, Juan’s mother, was the wife of Pedro Páramo (Finnegan and Brennan 2). Although Juan does not bear his father’s name, he is the only legitimate son to Pedro Páramo. In the story, Juan goes back to Comala to search for his father. Juan Preciado sends readers into the ghost world as he meets the lost souls of Comala, hears voices, sees apparitions, and even suspects that he was dead too. Readers can see through Juan’s eyes and hear the sounds of people buried in the cemetery with his ears. Besides, readers can bring together the pieces of lives in the story to develop an image of Comala and its demise. Interpretation of Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo lies in the ability of the reader to understand the themes, symbols and the interlocked questions that prevail throughout the story.Among the fragments of stories in Pedro Páramo are flashbacks to Pedro Páramo’s biography. Pedro is a son to a landowner who had seen better days. He is also in love with a young girl called Susana. Susana soon moves away making Pedro remain lonely. Pedro becomes even lonelier when his father passes on, and the rest of his family disintegrates. Pedro, an ambitious young man, is left to take care of the family’s estate and debts (Finnegan and Brennan 9). Through wiles, trickery, and violence, Pedro establishes an empire. He starts by marrying Dolores Preciado, the heir of his largest creditor. Pedro uses the marriage as an opportunity to usurp Dolore’s wealth and land and then sends her away to stay with her sister, in a place where she would not interfere with his designs. What succeeds is the narrative of the Medial Luna, a ranch and its tremendous success expanding easily without any hurdles. However, Pedro starts to pay for his wrongs when Miguel Páramo his only bustard son gets involved in a fatal accident. He also receives news that Susana and her father had returned to the region. Although Pedro plans to have Susana’s father dead so that they can reunite, he is unable to get back Susana. At the end another strange son, Abundio Martinez returns to ask Pedro for financial assistance to enable him to bury his wife. When denied, Martinez strikes his father to death in a drunken struggle.
Juan narrates his journey to Comala, his death and his unsuccessful search for his father in different fragments. The events in Comala depicts a city of dead people among the living. Halfway through the book, readers make a strange discovery as they experience an event whereby Juan seems to have a conversational partner engaging in different roles like asking questions, filling gaps and contributing opinions about Juan’s tale. Besides the dead’s dialogue, an omniscient third-person narrates Pedro’s biography until his death (Finnegan and Brennan 12). Although the narrative plots in these biological fragments flow in a generally chronological manner, the timeline is strangely distorted. The story adopts short textual passages that read like conversational exchanges that condense large historical timelines. The narrative alternates between poetic monologues capturing Pedro’s love for Susana and exterior dialogues and descriptions representing a domineering rancher dedicated to amassing possessions.Susana, Pedro Páramo, and Juan Preciado are all haunted by ghosts. Consequently, they turn to ghosts who also haunt other’s realities. As such, the lives lived by these characters turn to be phantasies because they are seen as ghosts. Seeing ghosts in the novel gives the audience the experience of being haunted (Finnegan and Brennan 16). Haunting, on the other hand, is a particular way of understanding what took place and what is taking place. As ghosts, Juan. Pedro and Susana reflect the social Context of Mexico in its movement toward modernization and regarding social arrangements that do not die entirely as newer social orders get developed. Pedro’s gathering of wealth and land as a rancher relates to the old trends of the accumulation of capital during President Porfirio Diaz’s dictatorship period that lasted between 1876 and 1911. Diaz tried to modernize Mexico through the development of investment and infrastructure, and this allowed for some anomalies like the establishment of the Media ranch and other local power brokers like Pedro Páramo who could share the interests of the elites and help maintain some social order. As such it can be argued to be the postmodernist novel. Within the similar context, Susana and other people tend to murmur their complaints in ghostly whispers, an indication that they are against authoritarian society.
The Mexican revolutionary movement of 1910-1920 brought porfiriato to an end and gave expression to Rural Mexico’s campesinos. Susana, in turn, uncovers the role of women that has for long been repressed in the patriarchal order. In the present world, women are treated as chattels, and ranch owners can forcefully populate the countryside with bastard children by imposing feudal rights on peasant women who live on their lands (Finnegan and Brennan 30). Susan, as well as other peasant revolutionaries, are all manipulated by Páramo. He can force events to maintain their places where he could easily access them, but he cannot take charge of their pleasures and desires. The peasants enjoy festivals and finally rebel again after the revolution by taking part in the Cristero Revolt that happened between 1926 and 1929. Susana feels guilty and remembers pleasures in evocative passages that reflect her erotic links to Florencio, a man recognized by others in the book, perhaps a soldier who had died during the revolution.The author shows that ghosts still have active roles in the present world. Pedro Páramo’s haunting power resides in the way it develops for the audience in a unique experiential understanding through the act of reading. It does not describe the struggles for identity and modernity in Mexico objectively. Instead, the book uses its exemplary configurations of techniques and tales to plunge its audience into the battle itself, to wrestle with the confusions and contradictions of being haunted by a past that will not die completely and to live in the present controlled by forces beyond their control. To understand the novel, the readers must interpret the symbols and the themes explored throughout, or else they will be left confused and without capturing the intention of the writer.