All they could do was sit under their roof watching the water. The narrator then talks about the river, saying it began to rise at around dawn three nights ago. He had been sleeping but the noise of the river woke him up and made him get out of bed, because he thought the roof might be caving in. When he woke in the morning it was still raining and the roar of the river sounded closer and louder than before.
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This brief story, narrated in the first person by someone who is identified only as a sibling of the central character, Tacha, tells of the tragic consequences of a family's loss of a cow in a flood. The only hope Tacha had of avoiding a life of prostitution in the city, a fate that befell her sisters, was in the wealth represented by the cow, which would have attracted a man to marry her.
The story is written in what seems to be the plain speech of a peasant, but it is a language in which every word is charged with ironic meaning. This gives the impression that the narrator and his family, who seem largely unaware of the irony, are overwhelmed by events beyond their control or understanding.
The detail and precision with which Rulfo focuses on the minutiae of a particular situation, combined with a remarkable economy of style, make this story resonate within a broad historical and social context and present strong implications about the very nature of human reality.
The historical period in which the story takes place, as with all the stories in The Burning Plain, is that of the late s during the last stages of the Cristero rebellion, a period of armed uprisings by rural priests and their constituents against the anticlerical policies of the revolutionary Mexican government, in the Los Altos region of the state of Jalisco in west central Mexico.
Rulfo lived and worked in the area, and the landscape, culture, and colloquial language of the region are portrayed vividly and authentically.
One of the reader's first impressions of the story may be that the world it takes place in is static and timeless and that, in spite of the characters' efforts, nothing in their lives or social condition will change. This impression is reinforced by the characters' apparent lack of full self-consciousness—which may be a lack of historical awareness for example, the mother "can't remember … where she went wrong," which turns out to be quite ironic —and the sparse natural and stylistic landscape they inhabit.
Yet, when examined more closely, it becomes apparent that their world is actually in a state of change; it is a world in which the present is discontinuous with the past.
As the mother says, "There have never been bad people" in her family, but now her daughters end up going off to the city to become prostitutes. In other words this is the period following the Mexican Revolution , when the great rural-urban migrations of the contemporary country were just beginning, and small town, village, and peasant life, especially in the region in which these stories take place, was increasingly impoverished and abandoned.
To a large extent the abandonment was the result of failed and corrupt government policies, a criticism that underlies much of Rulfo's work. Thus, Tacha and her family have not "gone wrong"; they have been faced with a new impoverishment and a new culture. The cause of their downfall is not the flood but rather the social circumstances in which the flood occurs. This contrast, between the static-seeming surface and an underlying state of change, reveals one of the fundamental structural modalities of the story and, indeed, of much of Rulfo's work, that of a juxtaposition of opposites.
The first example of this occurs in the very premise of the story, which is about a flood in what is normally rather arid country. The water is referred to in terms of its opposite, fire: "You could smell it, like you smell a fire. The water itself is full of contradictory meanings: normally associated with fertility, especially in a dry climate, it is here a source of death and destruction.
The rising water also is associated with Tacha's budding sexuality, and because it drowns her cow, it will also destroy her hopes for a decent life:. A noise comes out of her mouth like the river makes near its banks, which makes her tremble and shake all over, and the whole time the river keeps on rising. The drops of stinking water from the river splash on Tacha's wet face, and her two little breasts bounce up and down without stopping, as if suddenly they were beginning to swell, to start now on the road to ruin.
And although this flood of sexuality will cause Tacha's downfall in a moral or social sense, it will also prove to be her only means of survival, through prostitution. Another form of oppositional juxtaposition in the story is the doubling of self found so frequently in Rulfo's fiction.
It is present here as the narrator speaking to an absent listener, which may be the narrator speaking to him-or herself. There is even a suggestion that the narrator may be Tacha herself—speaking in the third person to distance herself from her certain doom—a suggestion supported by the intimate knowledge of and concern with her body, her situation, and her cow.
The narrator might also be a younger sister seeing her own future in Tacha's fate but not identifying herself in the narration as, again, a means of distancing herself from that fate. That consciousness is presented as a bipolar structure of experience of immediate life and of experience of the self as another and as a being in history, in which the two levels of experience are largely unaware of each other.
Although the story acquires its maximum resonance when read in the context of the others in The Burning Plain, it functions brilliantly as a perfectly crafted and unforgettable story on its own.
Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. May 23, Retrieved May 23, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. The rising water also is associated with Tacha's budding sexuality, and because it drowns her cow, it will also destroy her hopes for a decent life: A noise comes out of her mouth like the river makes near its banks, which makes her tremble and shake all over, and the whole time the river keeps on rising.
Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. More From encyclopedia. Born: Aldershot, Hampshire, 21 June You Might Also Like Meneseteung. My First Goose. The Eye. The Indian Uprising. We're Not Dressing. We're No Angels We're in the Legion Now. We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. We'll Meet Again We Will Not Enter the Forest. We Were the Mulvaneys. We Two Boys Together Clinging. We Think the World of You.
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It’s Because We’re So Poor by Aurelio Lopez
This brief story, narrated in the first person by someone who is identified only as a sibling of the central character, Tacha, tells of the tragic consequences of a family's loss of a cow in a flood. The only hope Tacha had of avoiding a life of prostitution in the city, a fate that befell her sisters, was in the wealth represented by the cow, which would have attracted a man to marry her. The story is written in what seems to be the plain speech of a peasant, but it is a language in which every word is charged with ironic meaning. This gives the impression that the narrator and his family, who seem largely unaware of the irony, are overwhelmed by events beyond their control or understanding.
We're Very Poor (Es Que Somos Muy Pobres) by Juan Rulfo, 1953
The reviewer also noted that Rulfo. In his introduction to the Texas edition, translator George D. Schade describes some of the stories as long sustained interior monologues "Macario", "We're very poor", "Talpa", "Remember" , while in other stories that may have otherwise been essentially monologues dialogues are inserted "Luvina", "They have Given Us the Land" and ""Anacleto Morones". The short stories in El llano en llamas are set in the harsh countryside of the Jalisco region where Rulfo was raised. They explore the tragic lives of the area's inhabitants, who suffer from extreme poverty, family discord, and crime.
Es que somos muy pobres, de Juan Rulfo
Coincidentally, the average age at which a female begins menstruating is, give or take, 12 years of age. In the story, the narrator mentions how his older sisters ended up becoming whores upon reaching maturity, something which was apparently uncommon in the family. Therefore, it can be concluded that the two daughters learned this behavior elsewhere, and ultimately ended up being kicked out of home due to their inability to control themselves. Finally, the story comes to an end with the narrator standing beside his weeping sister as he tries to comfort her sadness caused by her cow being swept away.