Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

In “The Gospel According to Mark”’ the passage of two thousand years is eradicated when a twentieth century man who travels to the country finds himself in the first century c.e. Baltasar Espinosa enters the world of the Gutre family, a primitive stage of human consciousness where reality takes place in the physical, literal dimension. There, he becomes the victim in an ancient ritual: human sacrifice.

Baltasar is a contemporary Christ figure: At thirty-three he faces the most important test of his life; through his medical studies, he has acquired the power to heal as demonstrated by the cure of the lamb; he possesses superior oratorical skills that he practices when reading parables to the Gutres; he is a courageous man whose goodness is nearly unlimited. At the same time, Baltasar, like his father, is a man of his times who knows too much to be able to believe wholeheartedly. His nightly prayers are more a matter of honor (keeping his promise to his mother) than faith. Furthermore, his attitude is not informed by the revolutionary’s enlightened determination but rather by a complacency and an ambiguity of one who reconciles.

The Journey to La Colorada signifies a return to the inception of humankind, an age of innocence in the history of civilization. That place or time holds lessons for Baltasar about life and therefore death, its attraction for him being the eternal and the transcendent (versus the...

(The entire section is 535 words.)