FL 380: An Archaeology of the "Boom": Modern Latin American Prose Fiction

Reading Guide to Rulfo #1
Pedro Páramo

Be prepared for: abrupt changes in narrator and narrative modes, unfocalized flashbacks, stream of consciousness, time shifts, and the predominance of a supernatural sense of the real.

  1. 3 "I came to Comala.."
    A. Who is speaking here?
    B. To whom can it possibly be speaking?
    C. Why did he come to Comala?
    D. What is the time frame?
    E. Comala = ???
  2. 3 The scene of the promise
  3. 3 What sense we get from Pedro Páramo at the outset?
  4. 3 How does Pedro Páramo's son end up deciding to visit Comala?
  5. 4 When does he go there? What is the weather like?
  6. 4 "but as you arrive it's downhill" ???
  7. 4 How does Comala look?
  8. 4 In whose place is Pedro Páramo's son coming back to Comala?
  9. 4 Whose memories are these?: "Just as you pass the gate of Los Colimotes there's a beautiful view ..."
  10. 4-5 "You're going to get some welcome . . . They'll be happy to see someone after all the years no one's come this way . . . Whoever you are, they'll be glad to see you". ???
  11. 5 Where did Pedro Páramo's son run into the burro driver?
  12. 5 "Pedro Páramo's my father too." Implications:
    A. Biological
    B. Social
    C. Mythical
  13. 5 "The stillness seemed to be waiting for something". ???
  14. 6 The hottest place on earth.
  15. 6 "Living bile . . ."
  16. 6-7 The Media Luna
  17. 7 Baptism & 2 jokes
  18. 7 A deserted town: Where is everybody? Where is Pedro Páramo?
  19. 7 A silent village
  20. 8 The woman in the rebozo.
  21. 8 "And that if I heard only silence, it was because I was not accustomed yet to silence - maybe because my head was still filled with sounds and voices".
  22. 8 "How I wished she were here, so I could say . . ."
  23. 6-7 Flashback: "So I stayed in Comala . . ."
  24. 9-10 Eduviges Dyada: "She told me you would be coming. Today, in fact. That you would be coming today".
  25. 10 "So that was why her voice sounded so weak . . ."
  26. 11 "No one knows better that I do how far heaven is, but I also know all the shortcuts".
    A. How far is Heaven anyway?
    B. What shortcuts may there exist?
    C. What is Heaven like for Catholics?
  27. 11 "I wondered if she were crazy".
  28. 11 Change in narrator and time sequence: flashback :
    A. Contrast: What is the weather like?
    B. What is the atmosphere like?
    C. What kind of people are speaking?
  29. 12 "I was thinking of you, Susana (. . .) into the green of the earth".
    A. Who is speaking here?
    B. What is he speaking about?
    C. What is the tone of this passage?
  30. 12 "I'm thinking"
  31. 13 "Hundred of meters above the clouds. . ."
  32. 13 "But with all the money we spent to bury your grandfather. . ." ???
    A. What is this family's economic situation?
  33. 14 "He stopped by the shelf where the picture of the Sacred Heart stood (. . .) He found a peso. He left the veinte and took the larger coin".
    A. Character trait?
    B. Who is this boy?
  34. 14-15 "During the night it began to rain again (. . .) And every thought I thought was of you, Susana".
  35. 15 "As she closed the door her sobs began; he could hear them for a long time, mixed with the sound of the rain".
    A. Who is crying here? Why?
  36. 15 Time change: Prospective : Back to Eduviges and Dolorita's son:
  37. 15-16 A note on the burro driver, Abundio.
    A. What do you make of this?
    B. Can Abundio hear?
    C. When did he stop talking and why?
    D. Is he alive?
  38. 16 Eduviges demeanor:
  39. 17 Dolores's wedding night and Eduviges's favor.
  40. 18 "Green pastures. Watching the horizon..." To whom does this voice belong to?
  41. 19 Dolores's departure: "And your mother went."
  42. 20 To whom is Eduviges speaking?: "When will you rest?"
  43. 20 Time change: flashback : Back to where it rains...: "The day you went away, I knew I would never see you again..."
    A. Who is speaking thus?
    B. To whom?
  44. 20 "You must learn to be patient". What is young Pedro's reaction to this admonition?
  45. 21 Time change: Prospective : Back to Doña Eduviges and Doloritas's son: "What was that I just heard, doña Eduviges?"
    A. What sort of things can Eduviges hear?
  46. 21 Eduviges's sixth sense and the death of her godchild, Miguel Páramo:
    22 "'No. Not crazy, Miguel. You must be dead".
    A. Attitudes towards death and the dead.
  47. 23 "Have you ever heard the moan of a dead man?"
  48. 23-24 Time change: Flashback : Back to rainier days..."Then he heard the weeping. That was what woke him up: a soft (. . .) where his fear lived."
    A. Explain this metaphorical usage.
    B. What has happened?
    C. How does Pedro react?
    D. Take note of this description for later consultation.
  49. 25 Time change: Prospective : To a time prior to the conversation between Eduviges and Dolores's son: The time shortly after the events Eduviges had narrated : The death of Pedro Páramo's son, Miguel Páramo."But not for you, Miguel Páramo..."
    A. What is Father Rentería's attitude toward the deceased?
  50. 26 "I know how you hated him, Father, (. . .) perhaps God has forgiven him".
    A. Comparative versions of Catholicism and power.
  51. 26 "Dialogue" between Father Rentería and his Lord.
  52. 26-28 Father Rentería and his niece talk about Miguel Páramo.
    A. "[W]hat does it matter if He lifted him to his Heaven?"
  53. 29-30 The common people speak about Miguel Páramo's death, his ghost, his father, and their own sisters.
    A. "Must be celebrating Miguelito's arrival. . ."
  54. 30-32 Father Rentería ponders about his ministry and his faith.
    A. "But she took her own life . . ." Who is he talking about?
    B. Comparative versions of Catholicism and salvation.
  55. 32 Time Change: Prospection : Back to Eduviges and Dolores's son."You're lucky, son. Very Lucky".
    A. What is she alluding to?
  56. 32 "It was during one of those intervals that I heard the cry".
  57. 33 Enter: Damiana Cisneros
  58. 33 An explanation is given to the shout.
    A. "Poor Eduviges, That must mean she's still wandering like a lost soul".
  59. 33-34 Time change: flashback: To a time just after Pedro Páramo assumes control of the Media Luna after his father's death. The mystery of the hanged man (Toribio Aldrete) is cleared.
  60. 34-37 Enter: Fulgor Sedano- The old administrator meets the new patrón (boss).
    A. "As you like. But don't forget the don".
    B. The new administration under Pedro Páramo.
    C. "I will, don Pedro, God's truth, I'm beginning to like working with you".
  61. 37-38 Fulgor wonders about the talent of his new patrón and thinks back to the time of Pedro Páramo's father, Lucas Páramo.
  62. 38-39 A narrator describes the scene of the proposal to Dolores Preciado.
    A. "And he left her with arms outstretched, begging for one week, just one week".
  63. 39 Dolores tries to get as ready as she can.
  64. 40 Fulgor reports back to Pedro Páramo
    A. "What a baby you are".
    B. "What law, Fulgor? . . ."
  65. 41 The beginning of hotter times.
  66. 41 Fulgor reports anew.
  67. 41-42 Time change: Back to Dolores's son and Damiana Cisneros.
    A. "This town is filled with echoes": What does this mean?
    B. "So don't be afraid if you hear newer echoes, Juan Preciado".
  68. 43-46 "Are you alive, Damiana?" and other voices and persons
  69. 46 "Sounds. Voices. Murmurs. Distant singing".
  70. 46 The mother's voice...
  71. 46 "I thought of leaving. Up the hill I could sense the track I had followed when I came, like an open wound through the blackness of the mountains".
    A. Is his return possible?
  72. 46-47 Juan Preciado is given shelter.
  73. 47-50 The woman and the man (Donis) are overheard by Juan Preciado as they speak.
    A. "I wouldn't mention it except that when I see him tossing in his sleep like that I
    remember . . ."
  74. 50 "There's dozens of roads..."
    A. How many roads are there?
    B. Are they all of the same sort?
  75. 51 "Don't you see my sin".
    A. What are this couple's sins?
  76. 52 Recalling the bishop's visit to Comala.
    A. Comparative views on Catholicism and salvation.
    B. Divine laws v. Human needs.
    C. An explanation to the village's present state.
  77. 53 "Nothing. (. . .) I understand less by the minute".
  78. 55 "It was as if time had turned backward..."
    A. What to make of this?
  79. 56-57 "Don't you hear me?": A last attempt at connecting with the mother.
  80. 57 The woman or the woman of mud:
    A. What symbolism may be at work here?
  81. 57 "There was no air . . ."
  82. 58 "That was the last thing I saw."
  83. 58 Rearrange your reality frame!:"Are you trying to make me believe you drowned, Juan Preciado?"
    A. Who is speaking to Juan Preciado in this manner?
    B. Where are they?
  84. 58 "It's true, Dorotea. The murmuring killed me".
  85. 58-59 Juan Preciado recalls his death in more detail.
  86. 60 Rearrange your time frame!:"I told you at the very beginning . . ."
    A. Go back to Page 1 and compare.
    B. To whom has the narrator been talking? To us readers or someone else?
    C. Are we not by now listening to the voices and murmurs of the dead?
    D. Are we not there, by now, in the Kingdom of the Dead?
    E. Is it at all possible to tell how long have they been dead?
  87. 60 "Now that I'm dead I've had time to think and understand".
    A. What does she understand?
    B. The two dreams of Dorotea.
  88. 61 "The only thing is that probably I should have my arms around you".
    A. Finding the mother?
  89. 61 "Try to think nice thoughts, because we're going to be a long time here in the ground".