Carlos Fuentes was among the authors of the American literary Boom. One of his major works was “La muerte de Artemio Cruz” (The Death of Artemio Cruz).
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The Death of Artemio Cruz critically analyzes the shortcomings of the revolution in Mexico and looks into the history and prospects of the country by examining different aspects of the community, beliefs and politics. Through the account, we get to see pervasive class differences between the poor and the rich in Mexico (Hart 67).
Carlos contends the capability of language to portray actual happenings using the typical third- person account by telling the story through the first, second, and third person perspectives. He begins every chapter in the novel using the first-person view of Artemio Cruz. As Artemio lay on his deathbed, he notices the fuss surrounding him when he sees his family members and the priest.
The priest, who is Father Paez, is performing the final ritual for Cruz. The method of using the present gives the reader a chance to navigate into Cruz’s mind, to listen to his opinions, search his conscience, and experience his internal mental condition during his last moments.
All episodes end by incidences that use the future tense or the second person narrative (You). One such ending is evident in the incident where Cruz and his son Lorenzo are out riding.
“You will bring Lorenzo to live ……without need on your part to explain the motives behind your labor in reconstructing the burned walls of the hacienda and reopening the flatland agriculture. The two of you will go out into the sun. You will pick up the wide-brimmed hat and put it on your head” (Fuentes161)
Words representing the future tense “you will” are all over the novel. This implies that both Cruz and Mexico have a predestined future. Every chapter begins with the scene at the deathbed and ends with circumstances of the future. In between are the flashbacks to the central incidences of the life of Cruz.
Using the third-person narrative technique, which is the most commonly used style, the author manages to drive the reader from the contemporary into the earlier life of Artemio, and similarly, of the empire of Mexico (Duran 57).
One key literary device that Carlos uses in Artemio Cruz is time alteration. Unlike other narratives that start with the birth of a character and then his death, Carlos’s work starts with the death of the main character Artemio and ends with a description of his birth.
Duran, a Latin America Literature Professor, thinks that this inversion of time is symbolic. He explains that Carlos used the style to symbolize the ‘death’ of Mexico subsequent to the 1910 Revolution and of its ultimate ‘birth’ as soon as the present corrupt capitalist power vanishes (Duran 56).
Before the realization of the Revolution goals, Mexico has to eliminate the fraudulent post-Revolutionary powers like Cruz (Gilly 43). Carlos’ description of Cruz’s birth at the end of the story denotes the renaissance of Mexico.
The Death of Artemio Cruz clearly demonstrates the barbarism of the Diaz rule. The well spelt out expressions anchor the tale to a bleak past reality in which Artemio Cruz navigates. Cruz was born as an illegitimate son. Despite his father being a rich hacienda vendor he neglected him. He found refuge among the peasants and this experience made him realize the wide gap between the wealthy and the poor.
As a youth, Crutz embraces the objectives of the Revolution, particularly lessening the gap between the poor and the affluent and he becomes a member of the rebel forces of the Revolution. However, he later accumulates a large empire through fraud, opportunism and craftiness.
Carlos, in his work, describes the profligate lifestyle of Crutz. He bought cars from overseas and often travelled in Acapulco for holiday. His mode of life highlights the cruel difference between the lavishness of the privileged Mexicans and the predicaments of the poor. Some of Crutz assets included:
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“ Real-estate investments, the mines in Hidalgo, the logging concessions in Tarahumara, the pipe factory, the fish business, financing of financing, the net of stock operations, the legal representation of US companies, the administration of the railroad loans, the advisory posts in fiduciary institutions, the shares in foreign corporations…..”(Fuentes 9).
The acquisitions of Crutz differ broadly with the poverty he encounters as a peasant child. However, affluence becomes worthless due to his weakening health and looming death. As his life ends, the feeble Artemio develops into a shell of his earlier self and leaves with no material things.
In conclusion, the Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes is a multi-layered, intricate piece that provides an in-depth analysis of revolution in Mexico during twentieth century and its failures.
The author uses a unique narrative structure that combines the first, second, and third person perspectives, thus allowing the reader to understand the present, past and the future of Mexico. The novel condemns present evils, while maintaining a sense of positive hope for the future.
Duran, Victor. A Marxist Reading of Fuentes, Vargas Llosa, and Puig, London: University Press of America, 1994. Print.
Fuentes, Carlos. The Death of Artemio Cruz, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991. Print.
Gilly, Adolfo. The Mexican Revolution, New York: The New Press, 2005. Print.
Hart, John. Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1987. Print.