Fragmented gothic identities in Juan Rulfo¿s Pedro Páramo Book in Scopus uri icon


  • © 2018 Taylor & Francis. Juan Rulfo¿s Pedro Páramo (1955) is an author¿s reflection on the fractured identity of his country during the first half of the twentieth century. That century began with a civil war: the Mexican Revolution, a cyclical disturbance that ended at the same point where it had begun. By the end of the conflict, new oligarchies had replaced the old ones, while the differences among social classes remained unchanged. The character whose name gives the book its title was a landowner from Revolutionary times who ultimately brought ruin and death to the town that lived and perished under his control. As a result, the text has most often been studied from perspectives focusing on the role of Pedro Páramo as a self-appointed ruler who imposes his authority on the inhabitants of Comala through the use of language and violence. 1 My purpose here, however, is to explore another possibility: that of approaching Rulfo¿s novel as a Gothic work in which the atmosphere created by the presence of haunting ghosts allows the author to express his preoccupation about the social fragmentation of his country. Rulfo¿s legacy, like that of Carlos Fuentes, has recently been examined from the perspective of its literary adherence to the Gothic. Both authors rely on the creation of enclosed spaces, where haunting presences become a channel of expression for dialogues with the past-such dialogues would lead to a better understanding of Mexico¿s present and future. In the case of Pedro Páramo, Rulfo adapted the Gothic to Mexico¿s rural context. He created a small town that could represent any of its kind in the outlying areas of the country, an isolated place that was as hot as hell itself. 2 In this chapter, I will be exploring how the town becomes an inescapable scenario where ghosts from the past irrupt page after page, making it impossible for the main character to leave. The voices of these ghosts disturb and confuse both the narrator and his reader, as they take us on a journey of reflection on the legacy of the Mexican Revolution.

Publication date

  • January 1, 2017