Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Don Goyo treats social-protest themes with a unique approach. The central element of cholo life in all of its facets is portrayed realistically as well as poetically. The true-to-life descriptions of the action and local customs, as well as the authentic dialogue, convey an accurate picture of the Ecuadorian coastal region. The style of the novel, however, gives the narrative a lyric quality, a technique that brings about the creation of an emotive reality, one that transcends its limitations. The characters are not so poetic, however, that they are mere abstractions. Aguilera Malta’s world is imbued with magical qualities while it maintains its firm footing in reality.

At the same time, Don Goyo is a socially conscious and committed novel which denounces the disappearance of cholo life, with its reliance on nature and simple things, and the emergence of white society. The white man, Aguilera Malta says, is only interested in exploiting those whom he considers his inferiors. Even though he respects Don Goyo, Don Carlos has no sense of community or sympathy for his neighbors. In Cusumbo’s early life, another white landowner transfers the father’s unpayable debt to the son, thus keeping him in chains. When Cusumbo murders him and his own adulterous wife, there is no retribution nor any indication that Cusumbo is a fugitive from justice or that he feels any remorse. The white man’s abuses seem to justify both the...

(The entire section is 597 words.)