Pedro Paramo

Pedro Paramo Summary and Analysis of Page 61 - Page 81


The narrative shifts back to Pedro's day. After a rainstorm, don Fulgor Sedano looks over the Media Luna and is pleased with the promise of a good harvest year. He watches as the gate of the Media Luna opens and the legions of men exit to herd the cattle. He shouts orders to them, and is respected. Miguel Páramo suddenly gallops up and leaps off his horse. When don Fulgor demands to know where he's been, Miguel insinuates he's been with a woman but won't admit who it is. Don Fulgor mocks him, saying perhaps he'd be interested in Dorotea, since she wants babies so badly.

Inside the house, Damiana Cisneros, who works there, asks him the same question, and he asks her if she knows Dorotea. Damiana says that Doreotea sings to a bundle of blankets each day, thinking it's her baby, and can be found outside the back door. Miguel is angry at having been mocked by don Fulgor, but then he heads outside and calls Dorotea to him. After making a proposal that is not shared with the reader, he demands of Damiana that she be fed the same food as him.

Meanwhile, don Fulgor checks the grain but is distracted by his resentment of Miguel. He reminds himself to tell Pedro how a man has accused Miguel of murder, and then laments how Pedro "indulges" Miguel's whims too freely, even though the boy lacks his father's brilliance and ambition (64). He recalls how Pedro often dismisses complaints about Miguel, and refuses to believe that the boy is capable of killing. Don Fulgor calms himself by focusing on the amount of grain surplus.

Back in the present, Juan speaks to Dorotea about how his mother sent him to die in Comala in her place, since she was not able to. She argues he should not mire himself in regrets but rather focus on the potential to get to heaven. Remembering how Father Rentería convinced her she would "never know glory", she is happy that her soul now wanders without her, since she doesn't "have to listen to its whining about remorse" (66). She recalls how life was bitter because of her soul's conscience, and so she gladly let it go when her body died.

In the past, Pedro lies in bed and ignores as don Fulgor beats at his door to wake him. He remembers his father's death, how his mother woke him in the dawn crying "They've killed your father!" (67) He hates reliving that memory because it brings too many other painful memories of death with it. Outside the room, he hears voices talking about lowering a body, and he rises to discover that Miguel has died after falling off his horse. Though he feels no sorrow, he knows he is "beginning to pay" for his sins (68). At the wake the next day, he orders don Fulgor to put the horse out of its misery and to demand the mourners tone down the show of their grief.

On the night of Miguel's death, Father Rentería wanders Comala alone, struggling with his thoughts. He recalls how Pedro Páramo brought destruction when he "made something of himself" (69). During that time, many women came to Father Rentería to confess having slept with him or having given birth to his child, until he finally had enough and brought the infant Miguel to Pedro after Miguel's mother died in childbirth. He was surprised that Pedro accepted the child, and blames himself for having placed that "instrument of evil" into Pedro's hands (69). As he regrets this, carts pass by and he tries to hide. When he is recognized in his hiding spot and mocked, he returns home and tells Ana he will not hear confessions yet. He then remembers how he once had sought his own absolution from a priest in Contla, and was refused.

The priest in Contla blamed Father Rentería for having facilitated Pedro's rise, and insisted that good men must be diligent in rooting out evil. He said that the common people are simple and stupid, and they rely on the Church to ensure moral fortitude. As Father Rentería had failed in this task, the priest refused to forgive him and hence could he no longer forgive others. Father Rentería falls asleep while lost in these memories, and the next morning offers his condolences to Pedro, who makes excuses for Miguel. Back at this house, Father Rentería hears the confession of Dorotea, who is drunk and admits she was the one who fetched women for Miguel while he was alive. He does forgive her, but also tells her she cannot go to heaven. He grows sick with disgust over the bitterness of his world.

Back in the present, an unidentified female recalls aloud the memory of her mother's funeral (though it takes a few pages to realize it is not Juan speaking). She wonders whether she ought to have mourned more for her mother, since she was instead aware of her sexual awakening. She addresses someone named Justina, asking if the she remembers preparing the funeral chamber for mourners, but how nobody came to visit. When someone arrived, Justina had to tell them that as the deceased had left no money for Gregorian masses, none would be sung. The speaker had worried that her mother would not go to heaven without her masses.

Juan asks Dorotea who was speaking, and the latter says it must have been doña Susanita (Susana San Juan), who is buried nearby. She tells Juan that she was Pedro's final wife, and that she talked to herself even when alive. Dorotea remembers how Susana's mother had died early in the girl's life, and had never visited with anyone. Juan hears another voice, but Dorotea identifies it as a man, and notes how the dampness calls the voices to life. They hear the man speak of how he woke up covered in blood, aware that Pedro had not meant to kill him. When Juan asks who it is, Dorotea tells him it's impossible to know, considering how many people Pedro had killed after his father's murder.

Lucas Páramo was killed accidentally at a wedding, but Pedro had everyone who had attended the wedding murdered nevertheless. Most were entirely innocent. They hear Susana moaning again, and Dorotea tells Juan how much Pedro loved and took care of her. After she died, he "spent the rest of his days slumped in a chair, staring down the road where they'd carried her to holy ground" (80). His lands slowly grew abandoned, and the whole countryside suffered because of it. This led to an exodus of villagers, while others waited for him to die. But not long before his death came the Cristero War, which further ruined the countryside. Dorotea blames it all on Pedro and his love for Susana.


In this section of the novel, the Páramo clan emerges more than before as an integral force in the life and death of Comala. Both Pedro and Miguel are presented as near-primal figures, with the potential for both evil and destruction. Now that Juan has literally been immersed into his journey to the past, it makes sense that the voices would begin to focus on the crux of Comala's demise.

First, it is worthwhile to consider the similarities and differences between Pedro and Miguel. On the surface, Miguel is very much his father's son. They each show little regard for others, frighten the community, flaunt the freedom afforded by their privilege, and collect women as objects. However, Pedro acts from a type of tactical impulse. Ever since his father's death, he harbored resentments that manifest in the way he takes over the Media Luna, in effect punishing the world for what happened to him. Even his collection of women has a tactical edge; it's his way of gathering together land and absolving himself of debt. Miguel, on the other hand, acts from a less grounded "evil". Unlike Pedro, who grew up in poverty and wanted to transcend it, Miguel was born into wealth and wreaks havoc without any clear purpose. Notice how he learns about Dorotea and then immediately propositions her to collect women for him. He has clearly not had any trouble collecting and assaulting women, but when he sees an opportunity to exploit a simpleton and extend his reach of cruelty, he does so without a second thought. His evil is far less nuanced.

In effect, both Miguel and Pedro are full of virility and life – they take what they want with an impressive gusto. However, because Miguel has no foresight, his virility kills him. His horse serves as a good symbol for him, in that the horse is known to gallop without any order or goal, the very quality that led to Miguel's being thrown off to his death. On the other hand, when Pedro's virility fades – following Susana's death – his lapse into lifelessness damns everyone around him. He has so effectively made himself a central component of Comala that when he decides to no longer "live", the whole countryside dries up and the inhabitants are plunged into worse poverty and death. Ultimately, they leave because their town's central life force no longer allows any life at all.

Pedro is significantly rounded out in this section. Pedro shows himself very much aware of the restitution that guides the universe: notice how he acknowledges he is "beginning to pay" when Miguel dies. He does not let this lesson guide him, but the acknowledgment is interesting. And of course, Susana is another way (in addition to his resentment over his father's murder) in which he is defined by the past. As we saw in the first section of the novel, she exists in his mind as an enduring image of his youth, and no matter how brutal he becomes in his adulthood, this seminal childhood force remains more powerful than anything else, so powerful that her death leads him to abandon a lifetime of accomplishment. His love for her has a type of purity, so strong that her death robs him of his characteristic virility.

Of course, this novel is about far more than the two Páramo men. The idea of Comala as a purgatory continues to resonate in these pages. Consider what Dorotea tells Juan about her soul's effect on her life: "Because of it, the little I ate turned bitter in my mouth; it haunted my nights with black thoughts of the damned" (66). There is in this declaration a recognition of the human need for guilt and remorse. Dorotea speaks what most of the souls in Comala intuitively understand: our remorse might be a noble quality, but it is also the quality that damns us to unhappiness. As these souls continue to relive their pasts in the afterlife, they are tortured not by the events of their lives, but by their recognition of their own lifelessness and their inability to force change on a dying world.

Not that they had much control during their lives, of course. Pedro Páramo's will is not the only stifling force in Comala. Religion continues to prove a terrible, life-draining force. It is not surprising that Dorotea feels so harshly about remorse, considering the way Father Rentería treated her. In this section, especially in Susana's memories, the price of absolution is made explicit. For poor people, there is no option but to hope for purgatory, since priests will not offer them absolution without payment. The fact that Father Rentería refuses absolution to others even when he personally knows the pain of such refusal is unforgivable. He is a perfect example of the lifelessness that pervades this novel. He fully understands the evil he facilitates through his inaction towards Pedro, and yet he does nothing but complain to himself. It is not only the priest and Pedro who are to blame, but also the village's blind subservience to a stilted religious system. The mention of the Cristero War in this section also helps make this point. Priests were literally to blame (at least in Rulfo's mind) for a certain level of destitution, and he explores that on a deeper level through their refusal to grant absolution to those who could not afford it.

Finally, the perspective continues to follow a somewhat logical shape even though the multiplicity of voices continues. Notice how, soon after Dorotea wonders aloud to Juan about Father Rentería, we hear his story. In other words, the voices come in such a way that they answer the reader's questions, yet again suggesting the possibility that even this multiplicity of voices reflects a single narrator's recounting of the various voices he hears while stuck underground, dead.