Mariano Azuela’s, The Underdogs, is full of characters that represent different sections of the Mexican society at the time of the Mexican Revolution around 1910 and each responds to the war according to their own circumstances and needs. The first such character is Demetrio Macias, a peace loving Indian, representing the poor peasants. His only interest is to protect what little he has. He is drawn into the revolution when he is being hunted by the soldiers of a political leader and he has to abandon his wife and child and watch the soldiers destroy his house.
Demetrio responds by putting together a band of sharpshooting bandits who are wanted for various crimes they have committed At the start, Demetrio is full of noble ideas and wants to fight for the poor while taking from the rich, something like Robin Hood. The group is focused and meets with success. However as his group grows larger it becomes more difficult to control, because with each victory comes power and with that the demands. For instance, after each successful battle they feel justified in taking all girls above twelve years of age to “service” them.
As time goes on, the rebels themselves forget what they are fighting for and start taking from the rich and poor alike Luis Cervantes, is a student portraying the educated middle class. He is captured by Demetrio’s men and manages to convince them that is a deserter of Huertas’ army and was actually trying to join them. He is unhappy with the treachery, and corruption in the Huertas’ army. The unnecessary meanness of the soldiers, rape, burning of homes, looting, torture, murdering of children.
1 Luis is a young man with ideals and a vision for the future. He believes that doing away with the crooked politicians will make Mexico a better place for everyone. While he imparts his wisdom on the bandits, some of them speculate if that is indeed what they are really all about, while majority just dreams about the booty the next town will bring. Luis’ unsuccessful attempts at conveying his insight to the bandits eventually cause him to change his direction and go in search of a business venture instead.
The next characters we meet in the story are two women, who symbolize the role of the fairer sex in the Mexican war. First there is Camilla, who provides services such as cooking, or caring for the wounded. Although initially she comes across as a meek person, we see eventually that she is really a strong woman who has a major role to play in Demetrio’s life. Finally, there is “War Paint. ” A very jealous and bold woman, who is always ready to rob anyone in her path.
She uses sex to manipulate men and get what she wants. For example, at one point in the story Demetrio is ready to take her to a hotel after drinking heavily. She challenges his manhood by saying that a real man of his standing would find the best house in town, take it over by force if necessary and spend the night there. Thus, they spend the night in one of the best houses in town, and War Paint proceeds to rob it after entertaining Demetrio.
It seems to me that the only person somewhat sincere with the revolution is Demetrio. After all he is the only one not willing to run away. He stands his ground and fights for what he believes in, despite the fact that the importance and force of revolution had lost its steam, and knowing in the end that he is outnumbered and will not survive. 1Cogan, Allan . The Underdogs (Los de Abajo): A Novel of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela. Retrieved from www. mexconnect. com
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