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Oppression Of The Powerless As A Tool For Character Development In Pedro Páramo

1489 words - 6 pages

In Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, various forms of oppressive behavior are manifested in the town of Comala – these range from the simple, readily apparent abuse of power to keep a population in line, as Pedro Páramo, having complete control over Comala, regularly does, to the very sinister use of religion as a means of reinforcing the patriarchal ideal held by contemporary Mexican society. In describing the oppression of society-at-large, Rulfo shows the sinister relationship that exists between power and the corruption of one’s moral standards through Pedro Páramo and Father Rentería.
It has been said of power that it corrupts they who hold it, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In ...view middle of the document...

It is the minimization, not only of Ana’s reaction to Miguel’s death, but also of the weight of Ana’s prayer as compared to that of others – especially Pedro Páramo – thus reinforcing the idea that women are and should remain powerless; it is the epitome of the machismo ideal that was such an integral part of Mexican culture. It is not only reducing the idea of prayer down to one of a ridiculous popularity contest, but it implies that an omnibenevolent deity would play favorites with its creations, such that it would cloud its judgment as to how to punish someone like Miguel. And that of the latter that invokes the very patriarchal nature of the Roman Church, and it is that very lineage that permits Rentería to put down his niece in that manner, by telling her that her pleading is inferior to that of a man, especially one that is as powerful as Pedro Páramo.
Quite to the opposite of Miguel’s treatment, Rentería loses his capacity to give his final blessing to a person who was a generally good person, especially when the person who is deceased lacks the ability to pay the church. In this scenario, it is with very little resistance that Rentería denies María Dyada’s request for commendation to the afterlife for doña Eduviges. Intercession is refused because Dyada lacks the capability to pay for absolution, something that he knows fully well, and takes advantage of to instill a complacency with that reality, that “‘[they should] put [their] faith in God’” (Rulfo 31), that they must continue to pray so that their loved ones are permitted onto heaven. The refusal to intercede, it can be said, is a form of torture that is oftentimes worse than the physical for the living, and Rentería is indifferent to this suffering. His inaction in this regard invokes the Latin phrase “Radix malorum est cupiditas” – that greed is the root of evil. Rentería, the Chaucerian fraud of Comala, sells the end result of one’s soul. Rentería is indicative of how such absolute power is capable of corrupting absolutely. From the selling of remissions of sin to the solicitation of tithes to the church, Rentería shows the toxic nature of his position, and how he is looking out solely for his own position at detriment to the wellbeing, mental or otherwise, of his charge.
It is very fitting that, while selling remission of sins - at great cost, for that matter – to churchgoers, the church enforces a perpetual state of poverty on the peasants, a manner of keeping them subservient to their power in determining their end fate. Susana’s childhood stands testament to this; she tells her grandmother that their mill is “so old [that] it isn’t any good anyway,” which the grandmother agrees with, but that they cannot get a new one, as “with all the money [they] spent to bury [her] grandfather, and all the tithes [they’ve] paid to the church,” that they have no money left (Rulfo 13). The necessity of giving money to the church is but a way of extorting money from the vulnerable...

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