Facundo: Or, Civilization and Barbarism

Facundo: Or, Civilization and Barbarism Literary Elements


History/Latin American Studies

Setting and Context

Argentina, 1810-1845

Narrator and Point of View

Sarmiento, the author, historian of Argentina, and biographer of Facundo, writes the novel from a third-person, omniscient view.

Tone and Mood

Part One has a poetic, lyrical, authoritative, romantic, and nostalgic tone. Parts Two and Three are straightforward, immediate, cynical, hopeful, and self-assured.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonists of the book are all adherents to civilization and European revolutionary ideals. The antagonists are Facundo, Rosas, gauchos, and all opponents of civilization.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is whether barbarism will take over the civilized cities of Argentina.


Facundo is killed by Santos Perez.


Facundo's barbarism foreshadows that of Rosas. Also, Sarmiento writes, "Civilization will, however feeble its present resistance, one day resume its place" (168). This is wishful foreshadowing but indeed is what happens (especially when Sarmiento himself leads the country).




Sarmiento quotes famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott on Buenos Ayres and the pampas (18). He also quotes Victor Hugo, saying his words might describe the pampas (48). He talks about the famous American author James Fenimore Cooper many times.
Finally, Sarmiento alludes to multiple famous men with whom he compares Facundo and Rosas: Caesar, Tamerlane, Mohammad, Caligula, and Napoleon.


See Imagery.


Rosas's methods are civilized, but his ends are not; he must come to power and fail to move Argentina to bring progress and civilization once more.



Metonymy and Synecdoche



Personfication can be seen in two quotes in particular: "What more coloring could the brush of fancy need?" (31) and "It was a blind tool, but a tool full of life and of instincts hostile to European civilization and all regular organization..." (58)