The fragmentary narrative structure of
is what links all of the elements of the book together and gives it a profound and lasting effect. It relates to the content, the themesand the context of the novel. Without this structure it would not have been a novel thatcaused critics to be so intrigued by its meaning. Rulfo himself stated that his aims inimplementing a seemingly broken structure were to “engage” the reader, depict the atemporalworld of the dead, and show life for what it is: chaos and disorder.
Furthermore, he couldnot have achieved the aforementioned objectives using a traditional narrative.The structure of the novel is perplexing the first time we enter the world of Comala.The struggle to unravel the mysteries within the segmented plot holds the reader’s interestand keeps us guessing as quite often we are even unsure of who is speaking. Fragment 41 begins ‘Estoy acostada en la misma cama donde murió mi madre’ and only the next fragmentmentions that it is Susana.
Thus, from the evidence of the partial narrators the story must bereassembled in our minds so that we fathom the message of the novel. According toElizabeth Sánchez, as with fractals, a recognisable and somewhat symmetrical form is hiddenin the structure.
As detectives, certain recurring elements can be taken as clues to follow thetrail of the plot. Rain becomes associated with Pedro’s past, as fragments 8, 37, 47 and 49evoke ‘la lluvia’. Similarly, the thread of conversation continues after a temporal gapthrough the repetition of the last phrase or idea mentioned. Fragment 11 ends with ‘Más tevale’ and fragment 17 begins with this statement (pp.85; 93). Discovering these links givesthe reader a sense of satisfaction, as despite the chaotic temporal ordering, it is possible not toget lost in the limbo of the wandering souls.Readers attempt to (re)order fragments and view Juan Preciado as a “stable” narrator.Being ‘dislodged’ from this supposed stability in fragment 36 pushes the reader away fromthe mindset for traditional literature and towards Rulfo’s world.
Rulfo aims for the reader to participate in the novel, and consequently, to learn about the nature of reality (Beardsell: 82).Forced to abandon all logic at the entrance to the world of magical realism, where the dead
1 Beardsell “Pedro Páramo”.
Landmarks in Modern Latin American Fiction
. Ed. Philip Swanson, pp.74-95(London: Routledge, 1990), pg. 82. Hereafter (Beardsell: page)2 Rulfo,
, Ed. González Boixo (Madrid: Cátedra, 2003), pg. 133. Hereafter text (page)introduction (Boixo: page)3 Sánchez, “The Fractal Structure of ‘Pedro Páramo’: Comala, When Will You Rest?”
Vol. 86, No.2, pp.231-236 (2003), pg. 232. Hereafter (Sánchez: page)4 Clark D’Lugo, “Pedro Páramo: The Reader’s Journey through the Text”,
, Vol.7, No.2, pp.157-162(1992), pg. 471. Hereafter (Clark: page)