Critics primarily consider Pedro Páramo as either a work of magical realism or a precursor to later works of magical realism. This may be deceptive, however, since magical realism is a term coined to note the juxtaposition of the surreal to the mundane, with each bearing traits of the other. It is a means of adding surreal or supernatural qualities to a written work while maintaining a necessary suspension of disbelief. Pedro Páramo is unlike other works of this type because the primary narrator states clearly in the second paragraph of the novel that his mind has filled with dreams and that he has given flight to illusion and that a world has formed in his mind around the hopes of finding a man named Pedro Páramo. Likewise, several sections into this narration, Juan Preciado states that his head has filled with noises and voices. He is unable to distinguish living persons from apparitions. Certain qualities of the novel, including the narrative fragmentation, the physical fragmentation of characters, and the auditory and visual hallucinations described by the primary narrator, suggest that this novel's journey and visions may be more readily associated with the sort of breakdown of the senses present in schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like conditions than with magical realism.
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