(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

No plot, as such, exists in this short novel, but the activities of the two main families named in the work may be traced through some one hundred twenty years (1853-1970). The book begins with a prologue, told in the stream-of-consciousness technique, which sets the stage for the following narrative, told from multiple points of view. The next three parts, “Presidio 1883,” “Presidio 1942,” and “Presidio 1970,” illustrate the conflict between Anglos, represented by the Lynch lineage, and Mexicans (who eventually become Mexican Americans, or Chicanos), represented by the Uranga family. The action throughout the book takes place in the border towns of Presidio, Texas, and Ojinaga, Mexico, on each side of the Rio Grande. No main character, except perhaps the Devil, is introduced in the prologue, but the barrenness and desolation of far west Texas, which will be the locus for years of conflict between the neighboring communities, is emphasized. Since Aristeo Brito was reared in this same environment of antagonism and conflict and, as an adult, returned “home” to research the book, many similarities between the author’s life and the narrative appear.

“Presidio 1883” details the Anglo domination of the area, introducing Ben Lynch (Don Benito), whose wealth and influence enable him to threaten, cajole, or cheat the Mexicans. He is powerful and has the strong arm of the Texas Rangers on his side whenever there is a conflict between him and the Mexicans he employs. At one point, he discovers a ring of horse thieves and proceeds to host a party to which they are given a special invitation. Much to their surprise, the thieves are summarily slaughtered. The only person willing to stand up to Don...

(The entire section is 702 words.)

The Devil in Texas Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Eger, Ernestina N. Review of El diablo en Texas, by Aristeo Brito. Latin American Literary Review 5 (Spring/Summer, 1977): 162-165. Review of the 1976 Spanish edition. Succinctly captures the tone of each of the sections of the book and locates it in the Chicano and Mexican traditions.

Jiménez, Hector. Review of The Devil in Texas, by Aristeo Brito. Hispanic, November, 1990, 70. Short, concise review of the 1990 edition.

Keller, Gary D. “A Crossroad Marks the Spot: Miguel Mendez, Master of Place, and the Bilingual Press/Editorial.” Bilingual Review 19 (September/December, 1994): 9-14. Although this article is not directly concerned with the works of Aristeo Brito, it demonstrates that Brito’s involvement in forming the Bilingual Review/ Press reflects his pride in Chicano literature. This pride certainly shapes his fiction.

Lewis, Marvin A. “El diablo en Texas!: Structure and Meaning: Studies in Language and Literature of United States Hispanics.” In Contemporary Chicano Fiction: A Critical Survey, edited by Vernon E. Lattin. Binghamton, N.Y.: Bilingual Press, 1986. A discussion of narrative technique, imagery, and symbolism.

Lomelí, Francisco. “Survey of Chicano Literature.” Bilingual Review 15 (January, 1989): 135. Although Brito’s work is not specifically mentioned, this journal article offers an excellent background for reading the novel.

Tatum, Charles. Introduction to The Devil in Texas, by Aristeo Brito. Tempe, Ariz.: Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 1990. Offers background information on the status and change of the people living along the Rio Grande as well as biographical facts about Aristeo Brito that impact the narrative.