Azuela: The inertia of revolution

In the outskirts of Juchipila, during the Mexican Revolution, Demetrio Macías makes an enemy on cacique Don Mónico, who sends federal troops on his trail by telling them that Macías is planning an uprising. Ironically it’s this persecution and the burning of his house that causes him to join the revolution along with his friends. Thus starts The underdogs, by writer Mariano Azuela.

Just as Macías, his friends join the revolution for personal reasons, rather than for social ideals: Luis Cervantes joins as a reaction of being mistreated by the opposition, El Meco is motivated by friendship, La Codorniz is a thief running from the law, Venancio and Anastasio Montañez are both avoiding convictions as murderers. La Pintada and El Güero Margarito -both violent sadists, and one of them a temperamental murderer- join them later. With such background it is no surprise that “I killed” and “I robbed” remain the two inhexhaustible topics of the revolution, on Azuela’s words[1]. However, authority, quantity and weapons are the factors that allow them to make a profession out of theft and murder. The only good ones are the ones whose blood was shed at the start of the revolution, “because they had no chance to be bad”[2]. Or, at the very least, they had no time to make a profession out of it.

Azuela’s revolutionaries are not linked by the ideals of the revolution, but by the event itself, because the mayority of them ignore the situation beyond their own battles and what they hear of others, with great delay.  Ignorance leads them to their fall but more than ignorance it’s the revolution itself that drags them as the hurricane  does to a dry leaf[3] or precipitates them like the force that pulls the falling stone all the way to the bottom of a canyon[4]. The revolution of Azuela’s characters is in the fight itself, rather than in the leaders or the ideals. Valderrama, the demented poet, sees this most clearly when he says, “I love the revolution as I love the volcano that erupts! The volcano for the volcano; the revolution for the revolution!”[5].

1 AZUELA, Mariano; Los de abajo. 4a ed. – México: FCE, 2007. (pp. 85 y 130, respectively)
2 Ibid. (p. 143)

3 Ibid. (p. 69)

4 Ibid. (p. 148)

5 Ibid. (p. 139)


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