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Tell Them Not To Kill Me

“Tell Them Not To Kill Me” By Juan Rulfo

1. What impression of the main character and his situation is created by the opening dialogue in which he begs his son to mediate? Explain.

The impression the main character gives is of cowardice and cunning. He begs for his life, trying to convince his son to interfere by saying, “Make him listen. Use your wits and tell him they’ve scared me enough. Tell him please for the love of God.”

2. In the story, Juvencio states that “he had to kill Don Lupe”. What does this line reveal about how he views his deed? What do his further thoughts make clear to the reader?

Juvencio sees his deeds as a necessary action, that he had no other choice to as it states in the article “He remembered: Don Lupe Terreros, the owner of the Puerta de Piedra, and his compadre besides. The one that he, Juvencio Nava, had to kill, because being the owner of the Puerta de Piedra and his compadre too he’d refused to let his animals graze on his land.” His further thoughts show that he killed the men because of his own greed.

3. How does the author structure the story to reveal the details about Juvencio’s life? Does the author use a straightforward chronological order? Explain.

The author uses Reverse Chronology, a form of chronological order that starts at the end of the story and uses a ‘Flashback’ as it states in the article his argument ended like this,  “And he killed one of my yearlings. This happened thirty-five years ago in March, because in April I was already up in the mountains, on the run from the summons.”

4. Why is the sentence “So there was nothing to fear from them” ironic? What does it foreshadow?

He had nothing to fear as “When Don Lupe died he only left behind a widowed woman and two little kids still crawling. And the Widowed died soon afterward too.” It was Ironic because of the fact that “But the rest of the people insisted that I was still wanted and had been found guilty in my absence just to scare me so they could keep on robbing me.” And that he would hide whenever they said people were in town. It foreshadows the fact that He will be unable to hide when they actually find him.

5. Identify where the point of view shifts from third person to first person in the story. Why does the author use the first person to have Juvencio narrate this part of the story? Does the change significantly affect the tone of the narrative?

The shift from third person to first person starts after the article states that, “...He and Don Lupe argued time and again without coming to any agreement. Until one day.” The author uses the first person to simulate that he was reminiscing, or simply having a flashback of what lead up to the murder of Don Lupe. The change does affect the narrative that we know what he was thinking about and possibly relate to his extreme action.

6. Review the details that are revealed about Juvencio’s crime. How does each new fact affect readers’ perception of his integrity and his character? Explain what makes these revelations ironic.

Each new fact given about the crime just shows he is a selfish, cowardly, and impulsive kind of man who generally thinks he is safe because of how long ago it was, It was found in the article that, “Later on I learned that he’d been hacked to death with a machete and then an ox prod stuck in his belly. They told me he lasted more than two days and that when they found him, lying in a ditch, he was still in agony and begging for his family to be looked after.” It shows that he is a nasty man and shatters all hope that he was actually innocent and it’s Ironic because he still hoped that they wouldn’t kill him and were after someone else.

7. What is ironic about Juvencio’s capture and his fierce desire to live? Cite details from the story that illustrate the irony.

The Irony of his capture is that he willingly went along with the men, as the article says, “He walked along in silence between those men, with his arms drooping at his sides,” hoping they wouldn’t kill him and hoping he could lie his way out, His thoughts of how to get out in the article were, “He was going to tell them to free him, to let him go; “I haven’t hurt anybody, lads,” he was going to say to them, but he kept silent. “A little further on I’ll tell them,” he thought.” It was also Ironic that the one he didn’t worry about “Don Lupe’s kids”, It was his son that was the one to order his capture, “Guadalupe Terreros was my father. When I grew up and looked for him they told me he was dead.

8. Structurally, the dialogue between Juvencio and the Colonel balances the initial conversation between Juvencio and his son. What other purposes does it serve?

The other purpose of the conversation between Don Lupe’s son and Juvencio was that to cement the fact that he was not going to be set free and that the crime he has done was going to be brought to an end, It also cements the irony from earlier that he was not worried about the two children that were simply crawling one would be his undoing. The article also brings to light about how brutal he was, The article states, “They told me he lasted more than two days and that when they found him, lying in a ditch, he was still in agony and begging for his family to be looked after. What you can’t forget is discovering that the one who did it is still alive, feeding his rotten soul with the illusion of eternal life. I couldn’t forgive that man, even though I don’t know him; but the fact that I know where he is makes me want to finish him off. I can’t forgive him for being alive still.”

9. Why does the author choose to end the story without describing Juvencio’s actual death? Cite details from the story to support your answer.

The author doesn’t describe his death because Juvencio’s story ended there, He wasn’t alive to be able to recount how his death was, and he wouldn’t be able to tell us as he was made drunk so he wouldn’t feel it. The article states that they already told us how he was going to die (By being shot) and the article says, “There he was, as though they’d beaten him, beating his hat on the ground. Crying out. “Tie him up and give him something to drink until he gets drunk so the shots won’t hurt him.” Now at last, he’d found peace. There he was, slumped at the foot of the post.”

10. What is a possible theme for this story? Explain.  

A possible theme for this story is that ”The actions you do, while forgotten, You can’t run from the past.” The whole story is about Juvencio hiding away in fear of being killed for his crimes and that after so many years he was finally brought to justice as Don Lupe’s son has finally killed the man that was running throughout his entire life to run from the punishment of his actions. “Now at last, he’d found peace. There he was, slumped at the foot of the post.”

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