3 December 2014
Mexico through the Eyes of an Author
Mexico is a country that like many before it has a turbulent and violent history. It has also experienced the dreadful phase of having to figure out what their identity is. During the days when author Carlos Fuentes was in his prime he saw that Mexico was in an identity crisis. They still had the descendants of the ancient Aztecs and had a new influx of mestizos with Spanish blood infused into their genetics. He decided to use his talent as an author to try and answer the question of Mexico’s identity to the best of his ability. Carlos Fuentes wrote “Where the Air is Clear” in a manner that reflected Mexico’s crisis while stating that Mexico should embrace its past and future.
“Where the Air is Clear” is made up of several characters. Each one of these people and their stories make up the big picture that Fuentes is trying to illustrate. Some of the characters include: Ixca Cienfuegos, Federico Robles, Norma Larragoiti, Manuel Zamacona, Rodrigo Pola, and Pimpinela de Ovando. The most interesting part of the novel is that the true protagonist of the novel never speaks a word and lets her inhabitants talk for her. The main character of the novel is Mexico herself. The point is to show how Mexico is defined. The country is in a state of turmoil and confusion and this can be seen in the lives of the characters that are presented. All of them have their own ideas on the origin, future, and current situation of Mexico. There is no single unanimous agreement among them. It is apparent to the reader that Mexico is in a state of change but the people living in it have yet to figure out what their role truly is. They also give us a look at what happened to some people after the revolution in Mexico.
The novel opens up with Ixca Cienguegos. He is a mysterious man of Indian descent. He seems to know every single one of the characters. He listens to their stories and he also gives his own opinions. He serves as the representative to Mexico’s past. He carries a name that has ancient origins and his presence is that of a supernatural being. It is also apparent at the end of the novel when his voice travels throughout the city in a gust of wind and tells Gladys Garcia “Here we bide. What are we going to do about it. Where the air is clear.”(Pg. 373). He also has a mother, Teodula Moctezuma, with whom he plans a sacrifice to the gods. His supernatural essence along with his mission of carrying out an ancient tradition solidifies Ixca’s place in the novel as the past of Mexico. Even though Ixca has an aura of a higher being to him, he still very much acts as a man. He has a sexual relations with Norma Larragoiti, whom he ends up using as the sacrifice when she burns, and then goes on to marry Rosa on the behest of his mother. Ixca was also a character that was critical of Mexico City and Mexico itself.
Federico Robles is one of the big players in the novel. He serves as the embodiment of Mexico pre revolution and post revolution. To truly understand how Fuentes personifies certain aspects of Mexico in Robles, his biography must be understood first. He is an Indian with a rags to riches story. He starts out from very humble beginnings. He is born to parents that are peons to the Ovando family. He gets the opportunity to travel to Morelia at the age of ten with a priest whom he will learn and work under. During a conversation with Ixca, he recalls his family visiting him for a while but they stopped after being struck with tragedies. His father dies of diphtheria, his mother is raped, his oldest brother is arrested after trying to seek vengeance and his other brothers did nothing about any of it.(p.76). He them was taken to the Zamacona hacienda where he did manual labor. He met the youngest daughter of the Zamacona family, a girl named Mercedes.
After saving her life she is smitten with him. Soon afterwards they have sex but are caught...
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