Has Juvencio changed as a result of the trials he has experienced?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! You asked whether Juvencio in Tell Them Not To Kill Me has changed as a result of the trials he has experienced.

Juan Rulfo's short story is an interesting study in forgiveness, conscience and justice. When we first meet Juvencio, he is begging his son, Justino, to go and speak to the sergeant and the colonel on his behalf. Justino is reluctant to do his father's bidding as he is afraid that he will be shot as well. He asks his father to understand:

"Alright, I'll go. But if they decide to shoot me too, who'll take care of my wife and kids?"

Juvencio is not concerned with Justino's wife and kids. At the moment, he just wants to be a survivor and he proceeds to give Justino a dismissive response:

"Providence will take care of them, Justino. You go there now and see what you can do for me. That's what matters."

As we read the story, we get the idea that old Juvencio is not so much sorry for what he has done, but that he has been discovered, and is to be shot in his old age. He is incredulous that after evading the authorities all this time, he has to submit himself to the further indignities of imprisonment and execution. He feels that he has paid enough through living in fear all of his life. He insinuates that Don Lupe did not act like a true 'compadre' at all when he refused Juvencio's starving animals the much needed grass so long ago. Although we start to sympathize with Juvencio at this point, our sympathy is marred when we hear the Colonel say that his father was murdered in a horrific way:

“Later on I learned that he was killed by being hacked first with a machete and then an ox stuck in his belly. They told me he lasted more than two days and that when they found him, lying in an arroyo, he was still in agony and begging that his family be taken care of."

At no point in his pleadings with the colonel (who is the son of Don Lupe) does Juvencio apologize for murdering the colonel's father in so violent a manner. Instead, all we hear Juvencio say is that he has already been punished enough and doesn't deserve to die.He is most concerned with self-preservation and does not seem to exhibit true remorse for his past actions. In short, he does not seem to have changed as a result of his trials.

Thanks for the question!

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Tell Them Not to Kill Me!

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