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Cruelty and suffering are underlying motifs of the story, and are particularly notable in this chapter. The cruelty of the gangsters, the bandits, la migra, and others are recognized by the migrants, even though they discuss these issues in hushed tones. Not only do they need to fear these forces, but they also have to fear retaliation if they complain too loudly. Enrique certainly seeks mercy or respite from his ordeal.