In The Book of Lamentations, Rosario Castellanos presents a fictional rebellion of Indigenous peoples in the Mexican state of Chiapas in the 1930s. Along the way, she explores the struggles between various ethnic groups, landowners and tenants, men and women, religious practices, and various self-serving politicians. She provides some reflections about how Mexican society can move forward.
The first way to do this is by understanding. People must understand the centuries of tensions and struggles that reach down into the very depths of Mexican history and society. This is why Castellanos wrote her novel to begin with. She wanted to expose the issues, to make people aware of the deep resentments that still remained. Therefore, she shows in detail how the landowners exploit the Indigenous people, how the government contributes to the problem with its schemes of land redistribution, how families are torn apart by infidelity, and how religious practices blend Christianity with Indigenous beliefs.
By bringing these tensions to the surface, Castellanos can explore the various cultures, social conventions, faith traditions, and oppressions that are still present in Mexican society. Again, these must be acknowledged if society is to move forward in any meaningful fashion. Without acceptance of varying traditions and without the recognition of lingering oppression and discrimination, the Mexican people cannot unite and move forward. Castellanos's book works toward this goal of unity through its revelation and description.