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In Pedro Paramo, Juan Preciado has gone back to Comala to find his estranged father, Pedro Paramo. As he travels to the village, he meets his half-brother, Abundio Martinez, who serves as his guide. Juan Rulfo portrays Comala as an otherworldly spirit town burdened with tawdry secrets and scandals. Comala is also a sort of purgatory in this story of magical realism; it is a town populated by the wandering spirits of once-living citizens. Even the protagonist, Juan Preciado, is dead. From the depths of the grave, he tries to make sense of his life and the lives of everyone connected to his father and mother in the early days of Comala. When he gets to Comala, he is given shelter by an old friend of his mother's, Eduviges Dyada.
Enter Damiana Cisneros. In the story, she is Father Renteria's (the local priest's) niece. In her youth, she was brutally raped by Miguel Paramo, one of the only acknowledged sons of Pedro Paramo. Damiana eventually takes a position in the Paramo household and is tasked with taking care of the young Juan Preciado. It is Damiana who informs Juan that Toribio Aldrete was hung in the room he is currently sleeping in. She also informs Juan that, after his death, Toribio's body was left to hang in the room, to decompose without benefit of burial. Damiana tells Juan that Toribio's killer does this so that the dead man's spirit will never find rest.
Juan then tells Damiana that he can't sleep because of all the shouting in the room, and Damiana confesses that the echoes of the dead man's shouts may have been eternally locked in the room.
Toribio Aldrete is murdered on Pedro Paramo's orders as a brutal solution to a boundary dispute between the two of them. Toribio's only crime was to erect fences for the purposes of defining the boundaries between the Paramo Media Luna ranch and his own lands. In response to what he terms a threat to his power and influence, Pedro Paramo sends his administrator/foreman, Fulgor Sedano, and a few 'tough men' to threaten Toribio with 'usufrock' if Toribio insists on continuing the land disputes. Usufrock or usufruct is the right to enjoy the advantages of property belonging to another.
So, Fulgor is sent to threaten legal or physical retribution against Toribio Aldrete for allegedly usurping the use of foreign property for his own. In the end, Fulgor hangs Toribio Aldrete in Eduvige Dyada's home. This is why Juan Preciado hears the echoes of the dead man's screams in his room.
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