The Shadow As a Projection of Cuitla’s Conscience
In literature, the mind has been the source of insanity for many characters. Perhaps one of the more notable instances is the story of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, in which the narrator was driven crazy by the sound of the beating heart of the man he had just murdered. In The Shadow, Paredes constructs the ghostly figure to represent Antonio Cuitla’s guilty conscience for having betrayed not only his community, but his friends as well. When analyzing the presence of the shadow, it is important to note the context in which it appears.
In chapter one, the shadow is first revealed to us as Cuitla is riding his horse down the dusty trail. The shadow is described to us as a “dense, shapeless mass of black,” that rose out of the middle of the road (Paredes 10). It was silent and didn’t move. Just before the appearance of the shadow, though, Cuitla was having thoughts about killing Del Toro. It was these negative thoughts that caused Cuitla to see the shadow. The appearance of the shadow coincides directly with Cuitla’s thoughts about killing his own friend. Paredes writes that Cuitla saw it out of the corner of the eye (Paredes 9). This demonstrates that just as the shadow appeared in the corner of his eye, so too do his thoughts about planning Del Toro’s murder reside his periphery, or in the back of his mind.
Cuitla rationalizes that a dizzy spell must have been the reason for him seeing the ghostly shadow (Paredes 12). Because he does not believe in the supernatural, Cuitla medicalizes what he has just experienced. Again, Cuitla cannot face reality because he tries to fabricate a story in hopes that he can convince himself that what he just saw was because he has a cold (Paredes 12). Paredes goes on to write that the “spot … had been inside his [Cuitla’s] head. Not in the middle of the road” (Paredes 12). In a way, Paredes teases the reader by blatantly stating that the object never existed in...
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