Tell Them Not to Kill Me!

by Juan Rulfo

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Explain why the author tells the story through a flashback. Consider how the structure fits the content of the story and how it contributes to the story’s impact on readers.

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In this story, we learn about a man called Juvencio, who allowed his animals to graze on the land belonging to his neighbor Don Lupe. Don Lupe got angry about Juvencio continually breaking through the fence to let his animals eat Don Lupe's grass, and so he finally said that he would kill one of the animals the next time they trespassed. When he did so, Juvencio killed him in retaliation. Since this time, Juvencio has been on the run, despite having bribed the judge and paid for his crime many times over. Juvencio feels that he is probably safe from Don Lupe's family because his widow died and his young children were taken away to be raised by relatives. Eventually, he goes to live with his son Justino, and Justino refuses to try to save Juvencio when Don Lupe's son eventually returns to bring him to justice.

Telling the story in flashback allows us to see, side by side, the present with the past: how Don Lupe's son is incredibly loyal and returns after many years to avenge his father, as well as how Juvencio's son is not and abandons his father rather than risking his own life to save him. Justino's response to seeing his father's corpse is relatively unfeeling, and he says nothing of how he will miss his father, only how his own children will miss their grandfather. The juxtaposition of past and present, as well as the responses of Don Lupe's son and Juvencio's son to their fathers, likely compels readers to judge Justino more harshly as a result of the loyalty the colonel shows to his own father.

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