Detective Notes

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Tazrin Hossain
UGC 112
Brian Campbell
Detective Notes # 1

Arana Xajilá, Plague in Central America (1519-1560)

The document, written by Arana Xajilá in 1519, illustrates for the reader the lasting impact and implications the plague had to the Cakchiquels tribe and the reader can then infer how the plague paved for the Spanish conquest of what is now present day South America. Arana Xajilá, Plague in Central America is a first person account of Arana Xajilá (also known as Francisco Hernàndez), a member of the tribe Cakchiquels tribe from what is today known as Guatemala. This first person account is written as a diary and focuses primarily on the plague and its effects on the Cakchiquels tribe when it (the plague) first reached the Cakchiquels circa 1519. This is significant; during this era, the plague ran rampant via the Columbian Exchange. Cortes also arrived in Mexico at this time, which proves monumental to the Cakchiquels later on, as is documented in Arana Xajilá’s diary.

Though the document is written as a diary or as a sort of holistic journal if you will, Arana Xajilá writes almost as if he has an audience; he certainly addressed the text as if someone were certain to read the words he wrote. Beginning on page 75 and continuing until the end of the text, Arana Xajilá repeatedly writes the phrase, “O my children.” The addressing of the reader as such suggests that Arana Xajilá writes not only to keep track of day-to-day events as a journal or diary should but perhaps to warn future generations of the pestilence that killed so many. The style of his writing itself is very vivid; Arana Xajilá describes the symptoms of the plague very vividly and provides a great number of details on the death around him. This gives the tone of the text a very morbid quality. Arana Xajilá seems almost helpless as he writes and the text itself reflects the pain of burying the dead, the fear the survivors held of perishing the same way their fathers and...
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