Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The central theme of the novel is anti-imperialism. The plot revolves around the struggle of the local growers to maintain their dignity and independence in the face of the power of Tropbanana. By not naming a real place or company, Asturias has extended his attack to all monopolistic exploitation in all Latin America.

In this novel of the independent growers’ struggle against the company, which initiates his Banana trilogy—the other novels in the trilogy are El papa verde (1954; The Green Pope, 1971) and Los ojos de los enterrados (1960; The Eyes of the Interred, 1973)—Asturias anticipates the rebellion of the workers which will occur in The Eyes of the Interred. Mead says that the members of the cooperative may not see the fruits of their struggle but that those who will follow them will benefit. Thus, the theme of the endurance of the people, the hope that eventually justice will triumph in spite of the odds, underlies the action of the novel.

Mead proposes changes in the company management to other stockholders in terms of educated self-interest. To protect their investment and guarantee a stable source of profits, they must curtail the excessive abuses of the company. He is not the pure idealist seeking only the welfare of the exploited; rather, he seeks the solutions that will benefit all involved, investors as well as workers and independent growers. The strong wind that takes the lives...

(The entire section is 478 words.)