Influence of Characters on a Story
In every influential novel, there are definite characters that apply certain aspects to the narrative to show importance of key aspects of the story. In Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo, the case is no different in that specific characters carry an importance to the entire aspect of the story. The characters in the novel that have great importance are Juan Preciado and Father Renteria. These two characters symbolize greater things that cannot just be plainly noticed. Juan Preciado is majorly important for the fact of that he is the first character introduced in the novel and he is the character that at first doesn’t realize he is dead. Also, Juan Preciado is like that of the reader in that he is in no place to identify his position in his life or in the readers case, the story. Father Renteria is a character that the people of Comala look to for wisdom and forgiveness because he is the God like figure in the novel Pedro Paramo.
The character Juan Preciado is the first character the reader comes upon while reading the novel. Juan Preciado is the son of Pedro Paramo and has just come to the land of the dead otherwise known as Comala in the novel Pedro Paramo. “I came to Comala because I had been told that my father, a man named Pedro Paramo, lived there” (3).
Juan Rulfo uses Juan Preciado in the same way the reader is unfamiliar with the text of the narrative. Juan Preciado’s relationship to Comala is the same to the readers’ relationship to the text for the reason being that the story is a journey in which both reader and character are constantly off balance. Juan Preciado and the reader don’t understand in the beginning that Comala is a town filled with dead souls but eventually, clues arise that lead to the conclusion that everyone is just spirits in Comala. “…she disappeared as if she never existed” (8).
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This was narrated by Juan Preciado which gives a clue to the reader and Juan Preciado that Comala is inhabited by spirits. Juan is also important in that he Pedro Paramo’s son. Pedro Paramo is the malicious land owner of all of the Media Luna who everyone has to respect or they may pay with their life and he is also “living bile” (6).
Juan Preciado’s importance to the novel is also modeled in his symbolism of being like the new life to Comala as stated here, “They’ll be happy to see someone after all the years no one’s come this way” (5).
This shows how there hasn’t been any newcomers to the town of Comala in some large amount of time and that when one does come, the people of Comala are quite happy to greet them. Abundio also states that “whoever you are, they’ll be glad to see you” (5).
The reader of the narrative can tell that Juan Preciado is used for very significant parts of the story because he is unlike other characters is very unaware of what he is entering and Juan Preciado, much like the reader of this novel, is unsure of what to believe or think of when first introduced to the situation. At the same time that Juan Preciado begins to realize that he is no longer alive or in the real world, the reader also begins to become aware of the setting of the narrative. A description of Eduviges Dyada by Juan Preciado explains that “Her face was transparent, as if the blood had drained from it, and her hands were all shriveled, nothing but wrinkled claws” (16).
This adds to the fact that Juan is important because of his knowledge of his location at the precise time that the reader acknowledges the same fact.
Father Renteria is another important character in Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo. Father Renteria plays the God like figure and ruler of fate so to speak in the novel Pedro Paramo. One can acknowledge this in the way others always come to him to receive forgiveness for their sins and wrong doings. At the scene of Miguel Paramo’s funeral, Father Renteria “left without offering the final benediction to the people who filled the church” (25).
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This left the people of the service having the corpse “weigh heavily on the soul of everyone present” (25).
Father Renteria’s occupation, the town priest, demands integrity, purity, and the power to believe his own teachings. Father Renteria might, at one time, have had those attributes but something changed him. The realization and consequences of his own conflictive nature haunt Renteria, and the town subconsciously senses his anguish, thus shedding light on Comala’s religious and psychological condition. Pedro Paramo states to Father Renteria to “Weigh him and forgive him, as perhaps God has Forgiven him” (26).
Just subsequent to that, Pedro Paramo “placed a handful of gold coins on the prie-dieu and got to his feet : “Take this as a gift for your church””(26).
As an honest priest would do and not accept the bribe for the blessing of the corpse, Father Renteria does the opposite and accepts the bribe. Juan Rulfo shows in Father Renteria how even a priest is still just a normal person and can make mistakes. Father Renteria had lost all faith in his religion and himself. As if he had failed a test, he says, “Alright Lord, you win”(26).
Father Renteria represents the constant struggle a person has to maintain personal integrity against outside corruption and personal vices which means that he is constantly tempted to do wrong things and sometimes falls for them. Juan Rulfo makes Father Renteria a necessary asset to Pedro Paramo because in Comala everyone is dead and they are all waiting to either receive forgiveness to go to heaven or take the opposite route and Father Renteria is a deciding factor for the people of Comala.
To conclude, Juan Preciado and Father Renteria have significant roles in the novel Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. They are necessary assets to the narrative in that Preciado is much like the reader and Renteria is the God like figure in Comala.