Tell Them Not to Kill Me!

by Juan Rulfo

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Identify where the point of view shifts to first person in the story "Tell Them Not to Kill Me!" by Juan Rulfo. Why does the author shift to the first person to have Juvencio narrate his part of the story? Does this shift significantly affect the tone of the narrative?  

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In “Tell Them Not to Kill Me!” by Juan Rulfo, the author initially uses dialogue along with third person point of view, employing an apparently neutral narrator. In the second section, use of a third-person narrator continues, followed by a shift to first person when Juvencio Nava picks up the narration, stating that, “I was already up in the mountains.” Along with changing the narrator to Juvencio, the author also shifts to a reflection on past events, thereby providing a context for the present-day situation, in which Juvencio is pleading for his life. The change in tone to bitter reminiscence increases the reader’s sympathy for the older man.

The initial dialogue occurs between Juvencio and his adult son, Justino. The reader learns only that Juvencio is likely to be killed and wants the reluctant Justino to intervene. In the next part, third person is used to provide the context for this dilemma. This includes the information that Juvencio has been apprehended for killing another man, Lupe Terreros, as well as some background and the relationship between the men.

The next shift clarifies that the events happened in the distant past, more than three decades earlier. Significantly, Juvencio’s reminiscences about that time include the difficulties everyone faced in a severe drought, which in his mind legitimize his killing the powerful landowner whom he believed exploited him.

This happened thirty-five years ago in March, because in April I was already up in the mountains.

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