Tension Between Empire and Nations

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Tensions Between the Empire and the Nation
“The Old Gringo” by Carlos Fuentes brings out two main themes of tension between the empire and the nation with U.S involvement in Latin America as an imperial power, and notions of civilization and progress in Latin America. The three main characters Ambrose Bierce, Tomás Arroyo, and Harriet Winslow all are in Mexico for a sense of redemption from their past and each of their stories resemble United States and Mexico during the times of the Mexican Revolution. The Mexican Revolution occurred around the 1930s to the 1990s and during this time the United States imperialism and notion of civilization and progress was taking place in Mexico. The three main characters each have different stories and different reasons for being in Mexico to achieve redemption. Ambrose Bierce also known as the old gringo was a journalist for William Hearst in the 1900s. His whole family left him because they were so shamed by what he wrote. He describes his writing as mocking God, his Homeland, and Money; and his family thought when would they be next for him to go against them, judging them, telling them their no exception, they prove the rule, and are all part of the ludicrous filth, the farts of God, we call humanity. (Fuentes, p.75) Some of the family left him through death and others left by just choosing to never see him again. The old gringo joked, “I think my sons killed themselves so I wouldn’t ridicule them in the newspapers of my boss William Randolph Hearst” (Fuentes, p. 73). Through his journey of redemption he met up with General Tomás Arroyo’s revolutionary group on the Miranda hacienda in northern Mexico. His plan of redemption was through death, “He wanted to die because everything he loved died before him” (Fuentes, p. 37) The general Ambrose Bierce met up with was Tomás Arroyo. He lived on the Miranda Hacienda in Northern Mexico for his whole life. He was a product of rape by the hacienda’s owner and grew up as a poor peasant. He received “papers” from an old man that would give him ownership of the hacienda that had been passed down from generations to generations. Arroyo took his opportunity of redemption when the Revolution came around. He destroyed the hacienda when the Mirandas left for safety and declared himself General under Pancho Villa’s Revolutionary army. His actions were in hopes of revenge over the Miranda family, from how he was treated in his childhood. Even though he hated the hacienda he could never leave it. Harriet Winslow’s character came to Mexico to be a teacher on the Miranda hacienda. She came all the way from Washington D.C. to teach the children of the Miranda family English. Harriet ended up getting caught up in the drama of the Mexican Revolution, especially involving General Tomás Arroyo. She felt the need to stay at the hacienda when the Miranda family fled for safety because they had paid her upfront. She had a strong passion to teach and civilize the people still left on the hacienda. By the end of her quest though and arguing back and fourth with Tomás Arroyo she will accept that she will never be able to change Mexico but accept Mexico for what it is. U.S. imperialism can be resembled through Harriet and the Gringo’s relationship towards Arroyo. Harriet and the old gringo act as the “United States” and Arroyo acts as “Mexico.” US interferes in Mexico 34 times (Murphy 3/20/2103) and has a blindness of things going on in Mexico because they were acting off their own needs and wants instead of what Mexico needed. Although the U.S had every right to intervene if a country is misbehaving and especially if there were European powers also trying to intervene; so the United States tries to modernize the Latin America government systems in such a way where they were only doing things from U.S. point of view rather than including Mexico’s Point of view. (Murphy 3/20/2013) The characters, old gringo and Tomás Arroyo in a way resemble the interference...
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