Mariano Azuelo’s The Underdogs was originally published in 1915. It appeared between October and December in an El Paso newspaper. By 1952, the novel was recognized worldwide as the classic story of the Mexican Revolution.
The main character, Demetrio Macías, joins the rebel forces and eventually earns the position of general in Pancho Villa’s army. Villa and other generals in The Underdogs are presented as the Robin Hoods of the Mexican people—taking from the rich and giving to the poor. The Underdogs also draws comparisons to Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and the French revolutionaries attempts toward democracy and equality.
The first part of the novel corresponds to the second phase of the revolution. Opposition forces gain strength against the Huerta government. The revolutionary armies are led by Pancho Villa, Carranza, Obregón, and by peasants under Zapata- joined forces. Huerta resigned as president of Mexico and fled to Spain. The revolutionary armies entered Mexico City, and the novel focuses on the dissension within these revolutionary forces, particularly between Villa and Carranza. The main character, Demetrio, and his men represent the peasant guerrilla forces in the revolution. The Federales (government troops) blaze their way through the countryside—a disorganized and corrupt government stealing from the poor.
Many novelists published work in Mexico from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s, but The Underdogs achieved both widespread popular and critical acclaim. Azuelo was one of the first writers to speak out against the corruption of the post-revolutionary government and society. In 1924, The Underdogswas referred to as the greatest novel of the Mexican Revolution. Its depiction of the charisma of Demetrio warms readers to the cause of the Revolution. The disillusionment following the Revolution is heart-breaking and Azuelo’s early twentieth century novel explains an impoverishment within Mexico that persists into the twenty-first century. The characters, dialogue, descriptions, and narration set an early mark for the accomplishments of Latin American writers that have influenced the literary landscape since the 1960s.
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Demetrio Macías is a peaceful Indian who knows nothing about revolutions. When, as a follower of Francisco Indalécio Madero, he is hounded by the political leader of Jalisco, he flees with his wife and child to the mountains. There, federal soldiers come upon the fugitives at breakfast, and Demetrio runs off. He returns with a gun, however, to prevent the wild and lawless soldiers from raping his wife. Being no killer, Demetrio lets them go free, only to have them come back with reinforcements and burn his fields. Demetrio then joins a band of sixty sharpshooting rebel outlaws and helps them to drive off twice that many soldiers. During the fighting, two of the rebels are killed, and Demetrio is shot in the leg.
For two weeks, the outlaws remain hidden in a native village, looked after by Indians who hate the government. Venancio, a barber-surgeon, tends to Demetrio’s wound, and the village women use poultices of laurel and fresh pigeon blood to heal him. An attractive young woman named Camila is his nurse.
One day, the pseudointellectual Luis Cervantes blunders into the village and explains that he has deserted the government forces because his commanding officer assigned him to menial duty. Distrusting Cervantes’ glib tongue and big words, the rebels pretend to condemn him to death. One outlaw dresses in a priest’s robes and pretends to hear the deserter’s last confession to determine whether he is a spy. Accepted eventually as a revolutionist, Cervantes then urges the rebels to join the great revolutionary leaders of Mexico. Camila falls in love with him. Although she makes her feelings evident, Cervantes never encourages her, not even on the night of the outlaws’ departure. Camila has never responded to Demetrio’s lovemaking—Demetrio is only an Indian.
Hearing from messengers that Victoriano Huerta’s federales have fortified the city of Zacatecas, Cervantes urges the band to hurry to join the besiegers and take part in the capture. He flatters Demetrio by telling the Indian that he is more than a common rebel, that he is a tool of destiny to win back the rights of the people.
Demetrio plans a surprise attack on one of the towns along their march, but an Indian guide betrays the scheme, and the federales are prepared to resist. A friendly citizen shows the rebels a back way into the town, however, and the garrison is overwhelmed. The rebels find and stab the treacherous guard and kill the federal soldiers who survived the attack.
By the time General Natera arrives in the district, Demetrio’s reputation has grown so great that he is made a colonel in the revolutionary army. Failing to take Zacatecas, the rebels are forced to retreat, discarding their...
(The entire section is 1124 words.)
The Underdogs, written by Mariano Azuela in 1915, was one of the first pieces of literature to delve into the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Because of the wounds left over from this conflict, many people were not yet willing to accept Azuela’s novel, which details the consequences—some positive, most negative—of the fighting that spread throughout Mexico.
In this compact novel, Azuela follows the path of Demetrio Macias, an ordinary farmer whose arbitrary fight with a government soldier seals his fate as a rebel on the run. Soon Demetrio gathers a band of anti-government fellows and they become a heralded group of marksman, picking soldiers off left and right, passing through towns northwest of Mexico City and gaining support for their cause. But as the fighting continues, as it seems the rebels and Pancho Villa’s army are gaining ground, constant despicable actions taint the glory of rebel's success. Demetrio and his followers, however, fail to see their inhuman acts (the random killing of men, rape of woman, plundering and pillaging of who towns) as anything but a consequence of the war.
Azuela tells his story in short bursts of prose and covers large swaths of time in succinct narrative passages, moving along quickly from one atrocity to the next. Between the senseless killing and romantic interludes, there are moments of clarity and introspection where the characters take a closer look at what they have done and question why they continue to fight. Much of The Underdogs is fatalistic as Demetrio cannot understand who he is fighting or why. He simply shrugs, and keeps fighting until he is the last man alive, picking off soldiers from behind a boulder, not questioning, just doing, and following the same blind path traversed by both sides of the Mexican Revolution.
The Underdogs begins at night in a small hut in the small town of Limon near the Sierras, northwest of Mexico City. On this night, soldiers from the Mexican army stumble drunkenly into town and Demetrio Macias must leave his wife and child and flee into the dry, rocky canyon where he soon meets up with his friends, who have sworn their allegiance to each other and their hatred of Huerta’s military. Demetrio and his men harass the government soldiers, hiding in cliffs and acting as snipers. After a major confrontation in which many government soldiers are killed, Demetrio takes a bullet in the leg; his men fashion a stretcher and carry him away. After the soldiers retreat, the rebels come across two of their men hanging from a tree. Several more are missing. As they search for shelter, the rebels come across others who laud their victories over the government men. This theme of applauding the rebel army will begin to erode as the rebels’ barbaric acts eventually overshadow their skills in killing government men. But for now, Demetrio and his band are heroes. When they finally come across a small settlement of Indians, they are again treated with generosity and respect from these local people who have also suffered at the hands of the government.
While Demetrio recuperates, he becomes infatuated with a young woman named Camilla who does not return his affection in the least. The older women of the town administer to Demetrio’s wounds using their ancient remedies (for example blooded and mutilated pigeons spread over ailing body parts) until Luis Cervantes comes into town. Cervantes is a young medical student known for writing inflammatory pieces against the rebellion. He says that he has been coerced into joining the government army. But Cervantes quickly sours to the task of killing. In fact, he discovers from intimate conversations with the government soldiers that most of the men do not want to fight; they believe they have chosen the wrong side, but they continue nevertheless. Cervantes, however, cannot. He deserts and seeks out the rebels. But when he shows up in the small Indian village he is immediately locked up. Demetrio’s men want to kill Cervantes straight off but Demetrio comes up with a plan. He has his men steal a priestly robe from a nearby town. He then orders Cervantes shot but allows the young man a confession. Since Cervantes does not confess any schemes against Demetrio and his men, Demetrio lets him go, and soon discovers Cervantes’ wisdom and healing hands. Cervantes quickly talks his way into Demetrio’s closest confidence and rides the coattails of Demetrio’s rapid rise in the rebel fight against the government and against Huerta.
As Demetrio heals, he again pursues Camilla, but Camilla falls quickly for Cervantes, who pays no attention to her advances. Camilla is driven mad with frustration. As the rebels ride out of town, she begins to weep hysterically. Her mother believes her daughter has been possessed by evil spirits and she proceeds to beat Camilla with a stick.
Demetrio and his men, who profess to understand none of the complexities of the revolution, simply want to go on fighting, but Cervantes convinces them that it is in their best interest to join up with the larger forces under General Natera. They go off in search of allied forces and come across an old man who tells them of a few enemy soldiers in the next town. However, the old man is a spy and setting a trap. Demetrio and his men fall into the snare, but Demetrio’s aggressive nature foils the plot. When another agent tells him to wait, Demetrio ignores the warning and orders his men to attack. The rebels slaughter the Federals and the details of the war atrocities begin to come out.
After the victory, the rebels meet up with General Natera in Fresnillo to plan the attack on the enemy stronghold of Zacatecas. At the meeting, Natera elevates Demetrio to the rank of Colonel. Cervantes runs into Captain Solis, an old acquaintance who confronts Cervantes with his past Federal associations. Not so long ago, Cervantes, as a journalist, wrote articles condemning the rebels. Cervantes tells Solis that he has converted, but this conversion only occurs because of Cervantes’ sense of self-preservation. Throughout each progressive stage of the war, he hangs on until he believes it wise to move on. Cervantes maintains loyalties only to the safe continuation of his life.
While the men wait for battle, they talk about the great rebel Pancho Villa and discuss the opulence and grandeur of Villa and his men from the north. The details of riches and privilege become the reasons for the war, until the men realize the accounts are nothing but stories; none of them has ever actually seen the man, and once again the war becomes hollow. Yet they continue to fight, and during the battle to take Zacatecas, Demetrio again proves himself to be the bravest of men and the euphoric ride continues for a bit longer.
After the battle, the men celebrate and drink and continue their lives of debauchery. Demetrio’s friend introduces him to an inhuman calculating man named Blondie, and around the same time a local girl they call War Paint sidles up to Demetrio. War Paint is a brazen woman, unafraid to speak her mind. When Demetrio directs War Paint towards a hotel, she laughs at him. She asks him, what is the point of the revolution if they cannot sleep in any house they want, if they cannot break down doors and windows, pillage and steal? Again, the reasons for war come to the surface, and again they are not related to any genuine social motives. The rebels grow more and more destructive as times goes by. They consume drink and food like animals and disregard the pleas of any local willing to protest.
But throughout the killing, the drinking, and the destroying of property and people, Demetrio continues to pine for Camilla, finally prompting Cervantes to ride back to the small town to retrieve her. He lies to Camilla, saying he, not Demetrio, wants her. Camilla jumps at this chance and only discovers the trick when she wakes up in Demetrio’s bed the next morning. War Paint finds out what happens and tries to console Camilla. She tells her to fake an illness so she will not have to move on with Demetrio and the others. But when the time comes to speak, Camilla agrees to go with Demetrio. She later tells War Paint that, to her surprise, she finds herself warming to Demetrio. This angers War Paint who, despite her new infatuation with Blondie, considers herself Demetrio’s girl. Soon she tells Camilla Demetrio wants to go back to his wife and child. Camilla, distraught, confronts Demetrio with this news. He vows to get rid of War Paint once and for all, but in the next confrontation, War Paint draws a dagger and kills Camilla. She dares Demetrio to kill her, but he does not.
Demetrio, Cervantes, and the other men continue to plow through towns and villages, leaving death and destruction in their path. Occasionally one of the men reflects on killing or war but all that comes out of these reflections is a hazy certitude of why men do things. When Cervantes tells Demetrio they need to travel to Aguascalientes, Demetrio again does not understand. Cervantes tells Demetrio he has to vote for the Provisional President of the Republic, for a man named Carranza. Through the continued acts of debauchery, Demetrio begins to sing a song about not knowing why.
The third section of The Underdogs jumps ahead in time, beginning with a letter from Cervantes who has long since departed to pursue his own ends in El Paso, Texas. In the letter, Cervantes laments the deaths of two of Demetrio’s comrades and celebrates the suicide of Blondie. Meanwhile, the war has broken into revolutionary factions. Huerta has been defeated so they do not really know why they are still fighting. Yet they are, and along the way Demetrio picks up another Cervantes, a young poet named Valderrama, who, like Cervantes, eventually disappears when he realizes his fate. The problem is that most of the men never realize their fate. They are trapped in this cycle. Near the end of the novel, Demetrio and his men capture a few deserters and condemn the men for deserting as the Federals condemned Cervantes. There is no longer a right or wrong,...
(The entire section is 3398 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 1
The scene opens with a man identified as Demetrio, a woman, and a child in a hut. The woman hears horses' hooves beating the ground, and the bark of their dog only proves that someone is coming. They are worried about it being a soldier. The man sneaks out into the night as the two soldiers approach on horseback. One of the men shoots their barking dog. Once they get up to the hut, they question the woman and disrespectfully demand food and drink.
The lieutenant seems to be quite drunk and both men want to know where they are. When she reveals they are in Limon, they mention the name Demetrio Macias. They seem to know that Demetrio the bandit lives in this area, and they show some respect for his name.
The Lieutenant hints at wanting to have the woman for himself. He even tells the sergeant to make their breakfast while he takes her into the hut. At this point, Demetrio steps into sight. Although the woman begs for him to shoot the soldiers, Demetrio lets them go. He has a feeling that more are coming and it would only anger them more if he killed to soldiers. He then demands her to take the child and go to Father's house. After she's in the distance, he climbs the mountain and looks back to see a fireball where his house used to be.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Demetrio has just left his house and has witnessed the soldiers burning it down. He is climbing down the mountain into a ravine, taking the trails that he knows the soldiers can't make or don't know about. He reached the pit of the canyon to take a quick nap, and then continued his journey to the summit.
Once he reaches the summit, he pulls out his horn and blows it three times both hard and loudly. Three sharp whistles respond and men suddenly began emerging from the bushes. They all had naked chests and legs and were dark skinned. These were Demetrio's men. Once they all emerge, Demetrio rallies them, getting them ready for battle against the soldiers. He tells them that they burned his house down. They rally and commit to fighting, whether there are 10 or 100 soldiers coming at them.
Anastasio Montanez, Quail, and Manteca are all introduced. Montanez boasts of carrying bullets around inside him from former battles. The men cheer at the upcoming fight, and then settle down to build a fire and prepare to eat. There is a carcass of a calf lying nearby while they cook the meat over the coals. Demetrio tells the men that they only have 21 guns, and that makes it sound as if that's not enough for the battle ahead. As the men eat around the fire, Demetrio passes around some salt for their meat and they finish eating.
Part 1, Chapter 3
The men awaken from their slumber and large meal from the night before. It is not yet sunrise, so it is dark, but the men are ready (with faces painted black) and waiting for the soldiers to come into sight. Soldiers begin appearing at the end of the trail, and there are over a hundred of them coming, some on horses, some on foot.
Pancracio is introduced and the men begin to fire at Demetrio's call. Caught by surprise, the soldiers all fall at the same time as 21 of Demetrio's guns exploded as one. Then as the men shoot the soldiers one by one, it is apparent that each man is an excellent shot. They are known for their marksmanship and take turns begging each other for a gun to shoot and show off. Quail even joins in with taunting as he takes his trousers off and holds them out like a bullfighter would to a bull.
Soldiers continue to emerge from the river, but Demetrio is able to pick them off as his men continue to reek havoc on the main group of soldiers. Several soldiers on horses flee while Demetrio and his men slowly pick off the others. They continue to fire on the soldiers until the soldiers inch up on them and spray them with bullets. The last part of the scene is where Demetrio is shot and he slides down a gully.
Part 1, Chapter 4
Demetrio has just recently been shot, and the men find that both Serapio and Antonio have gone missing. The soldiers had retreated, and Demetrio begins searching for the horses that the soldiers had hidden in the sierra. As they begin their journey back, Quail shrieks as he comes upon the two missing men. They are both hanging from tree branches.
Because of the two dead men, the group decides to continue quickly without resting until nightfall. Demetrio can no longer ride horseback because of his injuries and must be carried on a makeshift stretcher the rest of the way.
They walk a long way, taking turns caring their chief, and come upon some mountaineers' huts. They are fed well at these huts and learn what the soldiers have been doing to the other huts along the way. They steal the pigs, chicken and corn, burn down the huts, and then they take the women with them. Any men the soldiers catch are killed.
As they continue their journey, Demetrio makes them stop at a group of huts and he asks for water. The people there help him and he is given some bluish water to drink. He drinks two helpings of that and then faints. His fever is too much for him. Remiga, an old woman, takes him into her hut to care for him. She offers all she has for food to the men and tells them she had more, but the soldiers took it all. As the scene closes, she tells Anastasio that they even took Senora Nieves' little girl.
Part 1, Chapter 5
Cordoniz and Montanez are awakened by the sound of a gunshot. They leave their hut to investigate, and hear the sounds of women crying in fright and men, awakened from their slumber as well, reaching for their guns. Pancracio, who had been on guard duty, approaches, leading a young man covered with dust and bleeding from a wound near his foot. The stranger asks to see the commander, and reveals that although he had been drafted by the Federals, he is a revolutionary, and had managed to desert during a battle two days ago.
Pancracio and Montanez rough the prisoner up and want to shoot him, but Demetrio appears, trying to find out what is going on. He orders the prisoner brought before him. The prisoner announces that his name is Luis Cervantes, and that he is "a medical student and a journalist". He claims to have written "a piece in favor of the revolution", and says that because of that he was "persecuted...caught...and landed...in the barracks". He tells a melodramatic tale of his travails, but when all is said and done, wants to make himself clear on one point. Cervantes swears that he "pursue(s) the same ideals, and...defend(s) the same cause" that the revolutionaries defend, causing Demetrio to wryly ask, "What cause are we defending?" Pancracio impatiently urges Demetrio to let them shoot the prisoner, but, after thinking about it for awhile, Demetrio tells them to lock Cervantes in the corral under guard. He will take up the matter again in the morning.
Part 1, Chapter 6
Luis Cervantes laid down to sleep while in captivity of Demetrio and his men. Although completely exhausted, he couldn't sleep. His mind raced with how he'd come this far in the battle. The scene flashes back to his first day.
As the soldiers marched on that first day, he realized that he wasn't cut out for this type of lifestyle. He was so sore all over that when the time came for battle, he and his horse galloped away at the first sound of fire. He hid behind the rocks to not only hide but to sleep.
The next morning after he had fled, he was found by his colonel. Luis became the laughing stock of the officers. His colonel beat him and then assigned him to kitchen duty. As he was the object of cruelty from the other officers, Luis made up his mind that he would play turncoat. He began to talk with some of the other soldiers who did not want to be there, either, who did not agree with what they were doing.
Several other soldiers admitted their frustration with the upper classes and their superiors. So Luis decides to run to join his "coreligionists" only to find that they didn't want him. Instead they threw him into a pigsty, guarded by the fierce Pancracio and the scary Manteca. Soon they would figure out what to do with him.
Part 1, Chapter 7
Demetrio wakes up as Camilla brings some goat's milk for him. She was the young girl who helped him when he first arrived. Her voice is melodious to him and he tells her how lovely she is. He grabs for her wrist and she runs out the door frightened of him.
Demetrio decides to question Luis but indirectly. He has Quail fetch a priest's robe from a nearby church. When he returns, he will have Quail pose as a priest and have Luis give his confession to see what his true intentions are. If he's harmless, they'll let him go. Otherwise, they'll shoot him. Pancracio doesn't agree and thinks they should just shoot him.
Luis pleads his case and explains that he only wants to fight for them not against them. Demetrio sends him off with Anastasio and has Quail appear for the confession. Quail then returns with Anastasio and they admit that Luis is harmless. Demetrio orders Luis to be fed and guarded.
Part 1, Chapter 8
Luis searches for some alcohol, rags and boiled water for his injuries. Camilla offered her kindness and questioned him on how he learned to heal. She babbles on as Luis becomes lost in his own thoughts.
Luis had always been under the impression that the bandits were paid well and rode the best horses. There was always talk of silver coins being plentiful with the bandits. However, he begins to question the government and their stories, taking them for lies. He leaves the hut and Camilla is left alone.
Camilla's neighbor is Remigia, who has been watching over Demetrio. These two women discuss stitching him up. Three of the older women came together gossiping about the pregnant girl from Cofradia. They blame her pregnancy on a soldier. The woman named Fortunada in this group was the one who had her daughter taken by the soldiers. The women then use a pigeon to help heal Demetrio's stomach. It seems to work as the women continue to pray.
Part 1, Chapter 9
Two neighbor women, Pachita and Fortunata, enter the hut where Demetrio lies wounded and Remigia works, pounding corn for tortillas. Their primary reason for coming is to gossip, and they talk awhile about Maria Antonia, who has "got the curse today", and Uncle Matias's girl who had purportedly gotten pregnant by a soldier and has just had her baby. Fortunata asks how Demetrio is doing, and Remigia indicates that he is sleeping, but it is not long before the women's talk awakens the General. Pachita takes "a nearly smothered, gasping, young pigeon" from her blouse, and approaches Demetrio where he lies, telling him that she has brought it for him; "there's nothing like it in the world for hemorrhages and suchlike". Demetrio gives his consent to her offer of treatment, since he still feverish inside. Remigia takes the pigeon, makes the sign of the cross, and kills it, placing "the warm bleeding portions of the pigeon on Demetrio's abdomen". Demetrio lies still on his side as she instructs.
Fortunata then "(gives) vent to her sorrows", going into "minute detail" about her appreciation for "these gentlemen of the revolution", and how three months ago, Government soldiers had run away with her only daughter and had broken her heart. She prays fervently that God and the Virgin Mary not "spare the life of a single one of (the) Federals from hell". During her tirade, Demetrio lies with his face to the wall, "greatly relieved by the stomach cure", and thinking about "the best route by which to proceed to Durango."
Part 1, Chapter 10
Anastasio asks the chief to let Luis tend to his wound. Venancio isn't thrilled with this suggestion since he is "the doctor" but eventually steps back and allows it. The men watch as Luis dresses Demetrio's wound. The process of fixing him up causes much pain to Demetrio. He stifles moans at every move Luis makes. He is able to sleep then, and he wakes the next morning much happier. Meanwhile, the Federal troops seemed to have disappeared. Corn and beans then became plentiful for everyone. Demetrio is so thankful and appreciative of Luis that he makes sure that Luis gets the same treatment from his men as they give him.
The next afternoon the men lay and listen to Venancio's stories. It's a lazy day for the men as they listen, and some even fall asleep. Luis was so impressed with his stories that he praises him. Luis tells him that with his intelligence, he could go to school after the revolution and truly become a doctor. From that point on, Luis earned all of their admiration, for the men begin to call him "Louie" all the time.
Part 1, Chapter 11
Camilla follows Luis around full of admiration. She has taken to him since he arrived, and he does not want her as she obviously wants him. She tells him that she'd like to tell him something and he rudely asks her what she wants. It is apparent that he is annoyed with her. He only goes to her hut to care for his foot, and when he finished working on his foot, he turned to find that she had disappeared. She was not seen for three days.
When Camilla returns again, she is more eager to please him than ever. She tries singing to him and getting him to join in with her. Her voice grates on his nerves.
She then tells him how Demetrio is really a wicked man and that he grabs her when she takes him his food. She is looking for sympathy and for him to rescue her from Demetrio. Luis only laughs at her and her story. He calls her a fool and asks her what she's waiting for if the chief wants her. She is repulsed at his suggestion. Again, he's broken her heart, and she once again runs away.
Part 1, Chapter 12
Anastasio sits down next to Luis and begins explaining his life before the revolution. As he talks, Manteca has just won a hand of cards against Pancracio. Manteca pulls out a 20 cent silver coin and places it down on the card in front of him. He taunts Pancracio into gambling some more and jingles his belt. The silver coins rang loudly as they were shaken together. A small altercation arrises during their game, but after a handful of insults, they decide to make peace. Meanwhile, a stir of dust is heading their way.
The men mount their horses looking forward to battle against the soldiers, only to find a couple of Indians driving a few burros. The Indians inform them that the Federal troops had forfeited the hills in Zacatecas. Huerta will need their help in the fight, so they plan to move soon. Luis offers to go with them to help in the fight, but they still don't count him as one of their own. They blankly stare at him after his suggestion of going with them.
Demetrio sees this and calls Luis over to talk about whether he should join them or not. He calls for a couple drinks so he can tell Luis his tale of why he became a rebel.
Part 1, Chapter 13
Demetrio relates that he was born in Limon, "right in the heart of the Juchipila canyon". He had a family, a house, and a patch of land. Everything was going fine until one day, when he went to town, he got into an altercation with a man named Don Monico, and "spit on his beard because he wouldn't mind his own business". Don Monica went to the Federals to form a posse to capture Demetrio; they "said that (he) was a Maderista and that (he) was going to rebel". Demetrio fled to the hills, and was eventually joined by Anastasio, another friend on the run from the law, and eventually, others came too.
One day, Cervantes suggested that the outlaw band should join Natera's men, who were forming ranks to capture Zacatecas, near Juchipila. Demetrio did not like the idea; he only wanted to be left alone so that he could eventually go home, but the others urged him to take his men and join the revolution. Cervantes flattered Demetrio, saying that he had a "true, lofty, noble mission" which he did not recognize. He pointed out that the revolution, which was "bound to win", was meaningless if it was undertaken so that only "a few rascals (could) get rich and everything else stay(ed) the same as before". Cervantes said that they, and Demetrio in particular, were "the tools Destiny makes use of to reclaim the sacred rights of the people", and that like "Villa and Natera and Carranza", they should be "fighting against tyranny itself...for principles, to defend ideals."
Part 1, Chapter 14
Demetrio and his men are impressed with Luis and his ideas with reclaiming what is rightfully theirs. A couple men decide to take their women with them when they leave, and Demetrio plans on leaving in the next twenty-four hours. Demetrio checks with Luis to see if he is courting Camilla. Luis informs him that he is not interested in her at all and that she like Demetrio but is afraid of him.
Near the end of the day, Camilla went to fetch water as she normally does. Luis went at the same time to talk to her. He wanted to thank her for all of her help and kindness and to say goodbye. She expresses her frustration in him ignoring her. He pushes her to take interest in Demetrio. After all, he will become a general and will be able to provide her with wealth and a great life. She tells him that she only cares for him. In her shame she has him leave. When she turns around, he is gone. She walks along the river and catches her reflection in the water. She had dressed in her best to please Luis, yet it did no good. He rejected her all the same. As she wept, nature seemed to follow her lead as the frogs chanted a sad song and a dove cried as well.
Part 1, Chapter 15
Camilla doesn't show up to the dance. All are drinking and enjoying themselves, yet Demetrio misses Camilla. She claimed she was sick with a headache so she wouldn't have to go.
The men leave the next morning, and the women are again lonely. The men are seen in the distance making their way to the horizon. Camilla is so broken hearted that Luis is gone that her eyes are swollen and she's physically a mess. Her mother Agapita thinks that Camila has been the object of "the evil eye" and needs to have the evil spirits beaten out of her. So Agapita grabs a leather whip and beats her daughter until the spirits are gone.
The men gleefully make their way, taking in their surroundings and are proud of their mission. Along the way they joyfully call out to one another keeping the mood light. They travel all day long in the hot sun until they arrive in a small town late in the afternoon. They find an old Indian and his burro there. He was mending his leather sandals alongside the road.
The old man shared with them that there were only a few soldiers in the area, and he gave Demetrio and his men the latest information on who had control of the neighboring areas and cities.
They continue their ride until Demetrio has them stop behind a thick wall of trees to catch some sleep before moving forward any more.
Part 1, Chapter 16
They began their progress again at midnight to take the soldiers by surprise before light. Making their way into town, they knock on the door of a hut. A man came out and answered some questions though he wasn't happy to do it. He was worried that it would get him into trouble. he led them to the soldiers' barracks and informed them that their numbers where a lot greater than the dozen that the old Indian had told them about.
As they made their way into the town, closer to the barracks, a fusillade of shots rang out at Demetrio and his men. Owl was hit and Demetrio's horse was hit as well. The men all quickly retreated along the walls of the houses.
A workman leaned out of his door and explained to them that the men shooting are really just townsmen who were drafted as soldiers. They are just shooting at anything and most would join Demetrio. The workman claims that his brother is in with the soldiers and when they get close, he'll signal to his brother.
The young captain in charge of the soldiers is informed of where Demetrio's men are hiding, and he sends his lieutenant to go capture them, dead or alive. The captain then began obsessing about his future promotion from capturing all of these men when a large explosion ends the scene.
Part 1, Chapter 17
The workman joined Demetrio's men as they made their way to the alley and then to the back of the church. The men scaled the rear wall of the chapel and halted. On Demetrio's command twenty bombs went off at once. The soldiers were taken by surprise. Before they could react, another twenty bombs exploded once more, killing or maiming some of the soldiers in its wake. The workman who had helped Demetrio and his men begs for them to find his brother before killing any more, but Demetrio's men continue to plunder the soldiers.
Luis announces that they are out of bombs and that their guns are back at the corral. His fear only encourages Demetrio. Demetrio and his men smile as they pull out their long knives. Luis points out the old Indian who indeed was a spy and lied to them about the few number of soldiers. He was in there with the soldiers. Although he begs for his life, Demetrio kills him. Pancracio at that point was fighting with the workman's brother. The workman shouted to halt, but it was too late. Pancracio killed him. Quail finds the young captain next, and at his signal, Pancracio attacks and pushes the captain over the edge of the corridor. Quail is a bit upset that they couldn't get at the captain's shoes. They all began stripping the well-clad soldiers of their belongings to take for their own.
Part 1, Chapter 18
When Demetrio arrives with his one hundred men in Fresnillo, he meets General Panfilo Natera, who is about to attack the town of Zacatecas. Natera greets him enthusiastically, and Cervantes brags, "With men like General Natera and Colonel Macias, we'll cover our country with glory". Cervantes's purpose in emphasizing Demetrio's importance is made evident when Natera begins to address Demetrio as "Colonel". One of Natera's men, a young fighter "with a frank, cordial face" named Alberto Solis, is an old acquaintance of Cervantes. Solis remembers when Cervantes was a correspondent for a Government newspaper, and wrote "furious articles" denouncing the rebels, so he is surprised to discover that Cervantes has embraced the revolutionary cause. Solis notes that Cervantes "still speak(s) with that faith and...enthusiasm (they) all had" when they first joined the rebels. He too had once "hoped to find a meadow at the end of the road", but has become disillusioned. Over time, Solis has found that "there are facts and...men that are pure poison...and that...enthusiasm, hopes, ideals, joys...all come to naught".
Demetrio then approaches the two men, and Solis congratulates him on his legendary accomplishments. Demetrio is charmed by his flattery, and that night, the two bands strike up friendships, and celebrate raucously. Alcohol flows freely, and quarrels erupt; in the morning, "a few people (wake) up dead". Demetrio is nonchalant about the casualties, telling Anastasio indifferently, "Psh!...Go ahead and bury them."
Part 1, Chapter 19
Although the rebel attack on Zacatecas is unsuccessful, the fighters come back "as happily as when they had marched away a few days before, pillaging every hamlet along the road, every ranch, even the poorest hut". Their plundering is pointless, and their meaningless "celebration" an orgy of destruction. The men are "a maddened mob, sunburnt, filthy, naked", and their faces, hidden by their hats, give individuals an aura of anonymity. Demetrio, in light of the outcome of the battle, does not share in the rude exultation of his men. He calls Montanez and Pancracio aside and tells them that the men "have no guts".
Demetrio begins to reminisce about Camilla, the beautiful girl who cared for him at the ranch when he was wounded. He cannot forget her, and the way she offered him fresh water when he was feeling bad, and he wants to go back to the ranch. Montanez advises him to "steer clear" of women; in his own experience, he has learned that "women...(are) the devil". Pancracio is more receptive to Demetrio's musings. He says that he left his woman on the ranch as well. The other men overhear the conversation and begin to make fun of Pancracio. The chapter ends with the motley group laughing at Pancracio and making lewd jokes, and Pancracio and Manteca "shouting oaths and obscenities" at each other."
Part 1, Chapter 20
The rebels' spirits are lifted with news that General Pancho Villa is coming. Villa's reputation is legendary; he has been called the "Mexican Napoleon" and the "Aztec Eagle, who has buried his beak of steel in the head of Huerta the serpent". Natera's men especially can talk of nothing else besides the General's conquests at Ciudad Juarez, Teirra Blanca, Chihuahua, and Torreon. In their accounts, the "bare facts" mean nothing; what really stays in their minds are the vastly exaggerated stories of Villa's greatness, making him godlike, larger than life. Villa is portrayed as a Robin Hood-like figure, who "robs from the rich (to) give to the poor"; "it is the poor who (build) up a legend about him which Time (will) embellish as a shining example from generation to generation".
Demetrio's rebels are mesmerized by the tales told by Natera's band. They portray Pancho Villa's troops as "all northerners...dressed like lords with...Texas hats...and four-dollar shoes, imported from the U.S.A." Natera's men say that Villa has his own airplanes, and in each plane is "an American fellow" who drops hand grenades on the enemy. The tales get wilder and wilder, until Montanez asks if Natera's men have ever "fought side by side with Villa". As it turns out, "all this high praise (is) hearsay and...not a single man in Natera's army (has) ever laid eyes on Villa."
Part 1, Chapter 21
Cervantes, who "had been hiding among a heap of ruins", ventures out as the gunfire slowly diminishes. He had found himself in the midst of a fierce battle, and, having fallen from his saddle, had sought a safe place to hide. Now that the danger is passing, he encounters Solis, who ironically, has been hiding as well. Solis comments on the extreme bravery of Cervantes's leader Demetrio Macias. After the Federales had mowed down the first wave of rebels with their machine guns, Demetrio, "without waiting for orders from anyone", had led a courageous attack straight into the jaws of the opposing forces, and, with the element of surprise, managed to overcome their lines. Solis and Cervantes gaze over the field of their victory, a "six-hundred-yard slope...covered with dead".
Solis sardonically admires the "beaut(y)" of the Revolution, and laments that, even should the rebels emerge ultimately victorious, they will in essence only be building a new empire for "monsters of exactly the same sort...people without ideals...born to tyranny". He looks over the scene of "demolished house(s)...caved-in-roof(s)...fugitives who had barely managed to escape", and believes he "discern(s) a symbol of the revolution in (the) clouds of smoks and dust that (climb) upward together, embrac(ing)...and disappear(ing) into nothingness". Suddenly he feels a "blow in the stomach". The battle is over, but Solis has been shot, and he plummets into "eternal darkness and silence."
Part 2, Chapter 1
All of the soldiers sat together in groups at the tables of a restaurant in town. They looked dirty and completely disheveled. They were drinking champagne to celebrate, although Demetrio would prefer something stronger like tequila. During this scene the men go back and forth about who they killed, why they were so easy to kill and named the ranks of the ones they killed. Most told embellished stories with many details to make the story seem realistic.
As the men boasted of their killings, women made their way through the thick of men. They were all dressed with large Mexican hats with revolvers at their hips and cartridge belts slung across their chests. One woman in particular made her way over to Demetrio and leaped on the bar next to him..
Anastasio and three of Demetrio's other men made their way into the restaurant, too. Anastasio recognized an old friend Blondie, who was one of the men boasting earlier about his kills. He introduced the Blondie to Demetrio. Meanwhile, the woman sitting on the bar was given the nickname "War Paint." She continued to pursue Demetrio with her small talk and her stares. The men around them continued their talk of kills.
Not too long before daybreak, the men continue to celebrate in the streets as they head away from the restaurant. Some even shot off their pistols. Demetrio headed to a hotel with War Paint.
Part 2, Chapter 2
War Paint is helping the men pillage through the homes and belongings of the rich. Demetrio slept as they rummaged. Luis saw a box that was missed by the others and found two diamonds inside. He quickly placed them in his coat pocket.
When Demetrio woke up, Luis asked him if they could keep from making such a mess. Demetrio allows them to continue. As they continue to ransack the house, Manteca was boiling some corn on the cob, using books and paper as his fuel. Demetrio has another beer and soon falls asleep again.
Pancracio sold the books to a man who wanted them. Then Blondie came to praise Demetrio. He continued his praise on his Demetrio's men as well, and soon a fresh case of beer was brought out. War Paint enters the room in a beautiful silk dress. They all laugh at her, but she doesn't seem to mind.
More and more men came in groups and Demetrio told his "most notable feats of arms" to them in detail. Then a banquet began which was to celebrate Demetrio's victory at Zacatecas and his promotion to general.
Part 2, Chapter 3
Cervantes arrives at the banquet with a beautiful girl, "barely fourteen", whom he introduces as his future wife. She is seated between Cervantes and Guero, and the alcohol flows freely. Pintada, noticing that Guero can't take his eyes off Cervantes's bride, makes a comment about him. The orchestra plays raucously, the food is delicious, and everyone drinks "copiously".
After dinner, Cervantes rises to make a toast. Pintada interrupts, saying "speech making isn't for me", and heads to the corral. Cervantes presents Demetrio with a small brass eagle to celebrate his promotion, and others, including the tongue-tied Anastasio, make toasts also.
When Meco's turn comes, Pintada rushes in, dragging "a splendid black horse into the dining room". The men look at her catch with envy. Everyone keeps drinking, and some begin to nod off, but Guero, exceedingly drunk, suddenly screams that he is tired of living and feels like killing himself; he is "sick and tired of Pintada", and Cervantes's bride will not look at him. Guero takes a gun and tells the boys that he is going to shoot himself in the forehead. He takes aim at a reflection of himself in a large mirror on the opposite wall. When he fires, the mirror breaks into big, jagged pieces. The bullet grazes Pinatada's hair in its flight, but "she (doesn't) even blink."
Part 2, Chapter 4
Cervantes awakens late in the afternoon, surprised to find himself lying on the hard ground in the garden. His lips are swollen, and there is blood on his hands and shirt. At once, he remembers what has happened.
Cervantes had left the banquet with his beautiful young companion, and had taken her to a bedroom, but as he had been closing the door, Demetrio rushed after them "staggering drunkenly". Pintada followed, and began struggling with Demetrio. Demetrio, overcome with lust, looked eagerly for Cervantes's bride, but Pintada stopped him, and he was disarmed by Anastatsio. Enraged, Demetrio began striking out at everyone, and Cervantes remembers nothing from that point.
Cervantes goes looking for his sweetheart, and his footsteps awaken Pintada, who tells him that she had to lock the girl up to protect her from Demetrio. She tells him to get the key, but Cervantes cannot find it. Pintada knows that Meco and Manteca were the ones who took the girl from her home, and lewdly asks Cervantes what he gave them for her. She then goes to get the key, but cannot find it either.
Suddenly, Pintada has a thought, and runs to the bedroom door to peer into the keyhole. She stands there motionless, letting her eyes get accustomed to the dark, then calls Cervantes over, laughing. Inside the room is the girl, in only her chemise and stockings. With her is the unscrupulous Guero.
Part 2, Chapter 5
Demetrio and his men are making their way across the sierra. They are looking forward to meeting up with and defeating Monico. Demetrio is at the head of the riders, wearing his best clothing. Colonel Anastasio, Lieutenant-Colonel Pancracio, Majors Luis and Blondie are following just behind him. Further back yet are War Paint who is wearing her silk evening gown. The gown is hiked up to her knees as she rides, and her dirty stockings are full of snags and runs. She is riding with Venancio.
They arrive in Moyahua near sunset and find a large house, most likely one belonging to a cacique. Although locked up tight, their forced entry brings them face to face with women and children scurrying to safety.
Demetrio demands any guns and money that they have, and he also asks them where Monico is. The woman who comes forward brings them an old shotgun and later an old dusty wallet with little money in it. She claims not to know Monico. Demetrio commands his men to attack, and Monico jumps out of hiding, bearing a gun and begging for his life. As he begs, Demetrio flashes back to his house burning down and the figure of a woman carrying a child in the distance. He lets them all go, but when his men begin looting, he demands that they stop. He orders Luis to torch the house, and "no one could account for the strange behavior of the general."
Part 2, Chapter 6
Demetrio and his men find a large home that had also belonged to the cacique of Moyahua. They choose to stay there. It had been deserted and showed signs of struggle from those who left. Luis entered the drawing room as he went to turn in for the night. Demetrio was there alone, lying on the floor. Luis showed him the large sack of gold coins and attempted to turn them over to him along with a box full of jewelry and jewels.
Demetrio does not want such things. He is not as much interested in the booty they collect. He only desires to have his needs of plenty to drink and willing women within his grasp. Luis explains that now would be a good time to leave. The revolution will continue on for quite some time. The money and jewels they have could easily support them if they were to live abroad.
Demetrio says no. He needs to stay and continue in the fight. If they were to leave, "it wouldn't show much guts." He even still longs for Camilla. Luis promises him he would go get her. Demetrio shows his satisfaction with offering to give Luis the watch and chain that he'd been longing for in payment. With that, the two of them smile and Luis takes the box full of jewels and heads to bed for the night.
Part 2, Chapter 7
Quail begins this chapter explaining to the others that Demetrio had sent them with Luis to go back and get Camilla from her camp. The men joke of how Luis tricked Camilla into going away with him. He was only taking her to Demetrio, but he led her to believe that she was going away to be with him. She had been so depressed since he'd left that she'd even lost some weight for a lack of eating. So when Luis came for her, she jumped at the chance to be with him. Luis knew that using this tactic would be the only way to get her to go with him. She went very willingly, according to Quail. "She was so damned happy she was gabbing all the way."
Camilla tells all of this to War Paint through her swollen, red-rimmed eyes. War Paint creates a plan for her to get her back home, away from these men and especially Demtrio. Camilla will fake illness, claim she has a fever, and War Paint will "stay to take care of [her], [and] as soon as [she's] feeling all right again, [they'll] catch up with them." However, War Paint's plan is that she will take Camilla back home. Either War Paint has a sweeter side to her through offering to help Camilla, or she doesn't want to share Demetrio with her. Either way, War Paint is going to help Camilla so she is not forced to be Demetrio's girl.
Part 2, Chapter 8
Demetrio and a bunch of his old comrades were getting drunk together. Their spirits were such that they were laughing at how Pancracio even shot a civilian, leaving him in the street, because he resembled a "city man." The party was continuing on in the general store when Luis pushed his way through to make an announcement. They was a messenger who was sent to tell them to go immediately to pursue and capture Orozco and his men. This brought much needed delight to the men in the room. "Faces that had been dark and gloomy were now illumined with joy."
The men are excited to go in pursuit of Orozco and begin their journey to Jalisco. Demetrio has long been looking forward to a real fight, pitting "themselves against real men." So far it had been too easy to pick off the Federals "like so many rabbits or wild turkeys." Demetrio commands the men to give Camilla the mare as they were saddling up their horses. War Paint tries her best to explain the weak and sick condition of Camilla, in order to get her out of going and sneak her back home, but Camilla decides to to along with them. She tells War Paint that "she's beginning to fall for him" after all. Frustrated, War Paint stomps off to Blondie, who was saddling her horse up for her. Perhaps she was not trying to help Camilla, but she was trying to keep Demetrio to herself. This would explain her frustration.
Part 2, Chapter 9
The troops are retreating from a "futile maneuver", a pointless confrontation against " a handful of routed Federals...a poor devil of a priest and a hundred misguided followers". Demetrio and Camilla bring up the rear of the group. The men are in high spirits, having collected a large amount of plunder. Manteca exclaims that "it's fun fighting this way...you know why the hell you're risking your hide". Cordoniz exults, "exhibiting the gold watches and rings stolen from the priest's house", and calculates that he "has collected all of (his) back pay, and then some".
Guero Margarito appears to be dragging a prisoner along with him, a fat Federal who "breathe(s) with difficulty...his face..sunburnt, his eyes red, and his forehead drip(ping) with sweat". He is on foot with his wrists bound together. Sadistically, Guero pretends that he is going to kill the man, pressing the muzzle of his gun against the prisoner's breast and pulling his finger on the trigger - slowly. Guero takes great pleasure in the fear he sees in the Federal's face.
Camilla is disgusted by Guero's behavior, and complains to Demetrio, who gives no response. Pintada, however, calls Camilla aside and warns her that Guero is her (Pintada's) sweetheart, and that "his business is (her) business". Frightened, Camilla hurries to catch up to Demetrio.
Part 2, Chapter 10
Demetrio and Camila made their way to a meadow where two men were camping. One man sat smoking while the other man identified as Pifanio shelled corn. Pifanio turned out to be working for the other man. He was a very hard working man who worked for very little money.
Camilla is slowly falling for Demetrio. He placed his arm around her waist and they whispered back and forth to each other that night. The next morning Demetrio woke with an ominous feeling that something was going to happen to him. As he headed towards his men's camp, he envisioned his own land, his acreage, and the face of his young wife. Her features were very clear to him; however, sadly he could not see the face of his son. He seemed to have forgotten. This botherred him quite a bit.
As he reached his men's camp, he found them sleeping with their horses. Demetrio confided in Anastasio that he'd like to see his wife again. However, it would be a long three day ride back to Limon, so they would not be going after all. War Paint overheard this and attempted to sabotage Demetrio's relationship with Camilla. Her jealousy once again the reason behind her actions. She drove Camilla to tears by telling her how beautiful his wife was and that they have created a family together. Demetrio told Camilla not to pay attention to "that crazy baggage." Camilla grew happier, and Demetrio did not think of his wife again.
Part 2, Chapter 11
Early the next morning Demetrio's group left for Tepatitlan. They were to head to Cuquio from there, and then they would head to the sierra. "They thought of the mountains as of a most desirable mistress long since unvisited." All they could do was think of the mountains as they made their way across the torturous plains.
Money was apparently becoming an issue for Luis. He suggested to stop on the way to pick up more loot. As they continued to grow and recruit more men, they were spending more of their money "in advance loans and gratuities."
As they rode, Luis discussed his deal with Quail. He placed four "double-face bills of Villa's issue" in Quail's hand for his loot which contained a watch, some rings, and other desired goods.
The man who Blondie had taken prisoner had fallen in the street as they dragged on. Blondie taunted his prisoner and then struck him several times with his sword. The man did not move again. Once again Blondie had shown his murderous nature with his sick smile.
The group entered Tepatitlan. The soldiers went looting for whatever they could find. As they relaxed into the afternoon, an old widower came begging for his corn that had been taken from him. The man pled his case to Demetrio, Camilla and Luis. Through Camilla's sincerity, he received his corn back. He praised them, thanking them over and over and kissed their hands to show his gratitude.
Part 2, Chapter 12
When the band had almost reached Cuquio, Anastasio Montanez rides up to Demetrio and jokingly tells him about what had happened to a poor old man who had complained about the corn they had taken for their horses. Acting as if he was sympathetic, Guero had lured the man in on the pretext of getting him reparation, and instead had beaten him cruelly with his sword until he begged for mecty. Pintada, who is listening, "double(s) over in laughter, but Camilla is angry, and expresses her displeasure. Pintada turns on her then, and causes Camilla to fall from her horse and gash her forehead.
Cervantes is called to treat Camilla's wound, but she refuses to let him touch her. In the meantime, Demetrio receives orders to go to Aguascalientes. The men protest and complain, and Camilla cries all night, and begs Demetrio to let her go home in the morning because of Pintada. Demetrio wants Camilla to stay, so he tells Pintada she must leave instead. Furious, Pintada proceeds to insult everyone she can think of, until Demetrio orders a soldier to throw her out.
In "the blink of an eye", Pintada draws "a sharp, gleaming blade from her stocking", and stabs Camilla. Demetrio orders his soldiers to kill Pintada, but the irate woman steps forward and dares Demetrio to kill her himself. Demetrio picks up the bloody dagger, but hesitates, then growls menacingly to her to get out. No one dares stop her when she finally leaves.
Part 2, Chapter 13
Demetrio is devastated over the death of Camilla. As the band journeys to Aguascalientes, he hums a melancholy song over and over in a sad, low voice. The heartless Guero tells Demetrio that when they get to Lagos, the pretty girls there will make him come out of his depression. Demetrio responds that he only wants to drink.
At one point, Demetrio asks Cervantes "why in the world (he is) going to Aguascalientes". Cervantes tells him that he has to vote for the Provisional President of the Republic. Demetrio does not see the point, and grouses that he doesn't understand politics.
At Lagos, the townspeople are surprised by the fearsome group's arrival, and do not have time to escape. Demetrio and his men go straight to the bar, and Guero, trying to make Demetrio laught, is completely out of control. He makes the young men there "dance" by shooting at their feet, and forces a terrified waiter to stand with a bottle of tequila on his head while Guero shoots it off "without taking aim". Demetrio is not amused by Guero's coarse, cruel antics, and tells Guero to pay the bill. Guero replies that he has no money, knocks down all the glasses and bottles from the bar, and tells the owner to bill "your papa (Pancho) Villa".
At Guero's urging, the troops then head for the "red light district. One the way, Guero makes a passing tailor do "the dwarf dance" by shooting at his feet. Demetrio leaves the group and goes off alone, still humming his melancholy song.
Part 2, Chapter 14
Demetrio and his men elbow their way onto a train. The train is packed, but they rudely find seats. Some of their women even occupy "two or three seats with baggage, dogs, cats, and parrots". A heavy woman, who had stood all the way from Irapuato with a child, collapses. A civilian grabs the child, and others pretend not to notice. Some of the soldiers laugh at "the heavy thighs and pendulous breasts of the woman who fainted".
One old woman goes from passenger to passenger, wailing that her suitcase has been stolen and that she does not have anything left with which to feed her little boy. People "shower money on her", a bill at a time. Her plight triggers a conversation among the soldiers about stealing. Guero thinks that is is not wrong to kill, because "when you kill, it's always out of anger", and that stealing is worse.
When the group arrives at Aguascalientes, they find the city in squalor. The streets have 'been turned into refuse piles", and a man stands on the corner selling prayers on handbills and other supposedly medicinal items. Demetrio goes to visit Natera, who tells him the fighting isn't over yet, now "it's Villa against Carranza". Natera asks Demetrio his opinion on the matter, but Demetrio shrugs, understanding only that "the meat of the matter is that (they've) got to go on fighting". When Natera then asks Demetrio on which side he will fight, Demetrio responds that it does not matter; Natera should just gell him what to do and he will do it.
Part 3, Chapter 1
The chapter opens with a letter from Luis Cervantes to Venancio. Cervantes has escaped north to El Paso, Texas. He expresses regret but not surprise upon hearing the news that Pancracio and Manteca have killed each other "over the gambling table". Cervantes advises Venancio that the latter might not find it easy to bacome a doctor in the United States, but offers an alternate suggestion instead. He thinks that the two of them might "do a fine business" in the United States if they were to open a restaurant together.
Cervantes's missive makes the rebels start to wonder why they keep fighting. Their nemesis, Huerta, and his Federation, have been vanquished, yet still the outlaws fight on. Some of the soldiers offer an ironic but most likely true evaluation of their condition, noting, "If a man has a rifle in his hands and a beltful of cartridges, it can be only for fighting. Against whom? For whom? That's never mattered to anyone!"
The men, who are dying of thirst, stumble upon a hut in the desolate area in which they are traveling. The men who inhabit the hut run away in fear when they see the tattered troops, and Demetrio commands his men to catch them and bring them before him. Valderrama objects, saying the men are their brothers. Although Demetrio responds by smiling benevolently, he does not countermand his orders.
Part 3, Chapter 2
The prisoners are brought before Demetrio. He accuses them of being deserters, which they at first deny. One of the soldiers suggests that they are Carranzistas, to which they reply scornfully that they would rather be pigs. The prisoners admit then that they are indeed deserters, who have fled from Villa's army after that great General's defeat by Obregon at Celaya. At first the rebels do not believe the prisoners, because to them, the thought of anyone vanquishing Pancho Villa is ludicrous, but Demetrio is worried. One of the deserters recognizes Demetrio, and remembers his exploits in Torreon and Zacatecas. With that, the prisoners go into "a detailed account of the tremendous defeat of Villa at Celaya".
Demetrio and his troops are stunned at the news. Anastasio goes to fetch Valderrama, who habitually goes to hid whenever he thinks there is the danger that blood is going to be shed. Anastacio tells Valderrama the news about Villa, to which Valderrama, ever the poet, disdainfully responds,
"What do I care?...I love the Revolution like I love the volcano that's erupting! The volcano because it's a volcano; the Revolution because it's the Revolution!...But the stones left above or below after the cataclysm? What are they to me?"
Demetrio reacts to Valderrama's words with a smile, observing, "this crazy fool...sometimes (he) make(s) you think". A pall falls over the spirits of the rebels, however. Now that the great Villa has been defeated, they fear that they too are doomed.
Part 3, Chapter 3
Demetrio and his troops spend time in Zacatecas and Aguascalientes, and find both country towns deserted. The men are bored, and amuse themselves by drinking and conducting cockfights. Demetrio's staff is now "composed chiefly of young ex-government officers". Demetrio himself is depressed.
One afternoon, Demetrio sits down with his officers in front of a city square, abandoned and overgrown with weeds. He calls the mad poet Valderrama to him and asks him to sing a song. As Valderrama tunes his guitar, a cockfight begins, and Valderrama is distracted. The fight is swift and fierce, with the two roosters, one a light red with obsidian-tipped feathers, and the other sand-colored with feathers of a fiery copper color, tangled "in a dizzy whirlwind" momentarily suspended in the air. The battle ends when the red rooster breaks loose and lands outside the chalk lines "with his legs to heaven", dying "convulsively in a pool of blood".
Valderrama then begins his song, and he sings with such feeling and expression that Demetrio is brought to tears. Demetrio tries to hide his eyes, but Valderrame embraces him, whispering, "Drink them...those are beautiful tears". A drink is passed, and in a reference to the General's weeping, the mad poet dramatically announces, "here you may witness the pleasures of the Revolution caught in a single tear."
Part 3, Chapter 4
The rebel band wanders through the country in a "march of a blind man without his guide". They approach the town of Juchipila, and Valderrama counts the crosses along the side of the road, the "trace of the blood shed by the first revolutionaries of 1910, murdered by the Government". The poet launches into a dramatic soliloquy extolling the praises of these "martyrs...dreamers...good men", only to be cut off rudely by an ex-Federal officer who now populates the rebel ranks.
There is unrest among Demetrio's men, because of the number of former Federales who occupy positions of importance on the General's staff. Even Anastasio, "who invariably has only praise for Demetrio's conduct", now seems to share the general discontent. He talks to Demetrio, who agrees that they are "in a bad way". Demetrio muses upon the fact that they "kick and kick, but...keep on killing and killing". He cannot explain why they must remain trapped in what has become a purposeless way of life, and helplessly, he concludes that it is best not to say anything.
In an attempt to raise the men's spirits, Demetrio announces that he has orders to "stop a band of men coming through Cuquio"; in a few days, they will have to fight the Carranzistas, and "this time (they) better give them a beating". Valderrama, the mad poet and "highway tramp", overhears Demetrio's words, and disappears as surreptitiously as he had arrived.
Part 3, Chapter 5
Demetrio and his troops enter Juchipila as the church bells ring, "loud and joyfully". They are reminded of the old days when the revolution was just beginning, and the bells in the towns they passed through rang with welcome at their arrival. Demetrio notes drily that "they don't like us anymore...they don't give a damn for the other side either".
Juchipila is in the midst of a fiesta, being celebrated in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The men remember that "one year ago they had captured Zacatecas", and they are saddened. Juchipila, like the other towns through which they have just passed, lies largely in ruins, with "the black trail of the fires show(ing) in the roofless houses, in the charred railings". Searching for food, the soldiers find "a single lunchroom" which is open among all the shuttered buildings. They enter, but are not received graciously; there are "no beans, no tortillas, only chili and salt". In vain, the officers use threats, or "show their pocketbooks stuffed with bills", but to no avail. The insolent owner scoffs at their attempts, telling them she has "already slept with a dead man to cure her from ever feeling frightened again". In the "melancholy and (desolate)" town, the people no longer look upon the revolutionaries as heroes, and they will not help them. To the people, Demetrio and his men are now just a band of outlaws.
Part 3, Chapter 6
Demetrio returns home after an absence of two years, and his wife, "mad with joy" rushes to meet him, holding a young child by the hand. She is ecstatic to have her husband back, but Demetrio is "astonished" at how his wife appears to "have aged ten or twenty years". Demetrio no longer fits in the place he once called home. His child looks at him "in terror", clinging to his mother's skirts.
Demetrio's wife thanks God for his return, and tells him that he will never have to leave them again, but Demetrio's face "cloud(s) over" at her proclamations, and he himself remains silent, unable to express the feelings in his hearts. A black cloud appears overhead, and a heavy rain begins to fall (Part 3, Chapter 6).
Demetrio, his wife, and his child take refuge in a cave, and watch as the rains "(come) pelting down". They can see the "tall, swaying palms" in the depths of the canyon, and the mountains all around them, with "peaks so high that their blue summits (vanish) in the sapphire of the sky". Demetrio's wife begs him to stay, but they both know that he will not.
Defeated, Demetrio's wife asks him why he keeps on fighting. He has no answer, but picks up a stone and throws it to the bottom of the canyon. "Look at that stone, how it keeps on going...", he says. Like the stone, he too must keep falling, down, down into the abyss.
Part 3, Chapter 7
At the place where two years earlier they had won their first victory, Demetrio's troops "step along the steep crags, buoyed up by the happiness of the morning". It does not matter "where they are going, or where they are coming from...all that matters is to walk...endlessly, without ever stopping, to possess the valley, the mountain plains, far as the eye can reach". Demetrio tells his men how "in this same sierra...with just twenty men (he) killed five hundred Federals", and as he describes that "famous exploit", the men begin to realize the danger they are facing now. Firing begins in the distance, and the young recruits turn to flee; angry, Demetrio orders his men to "shoot any man who runs away". Suddenly, the enemy, who has been lying in ambush, opens fire on the small band with machine guns, and Demetrio's men "fall like wheat under the sickle". Demetrio "sheds tears of rage" as he watches his friend Anastasio fall from his horse to lie still and lifeless on the ground, and sees the loyal Venancio fall "close beside him, his chest horribly riddled with bullets".
Finding himself alone, Demetrio finds a protected position, and begins to shoot. He revels in his expert marksmanship; "wherever he settles his glance, he settles a bullet". As he takes aim a final time, the scene shifts to the "sierra...clad in gala colors". At the foot of a crevice "as...magnificent as...an old cathedral", Demetrio Macias lies dead, his eyes "fixed in an eternal stare" as he continues "to point the barrel of his gun (Part 3, Chapter 7).