It is a principal irony of The Underdogs that the revolutionaries who set out to rid their country of oppression and injustice end up adopting the corrupt values and practices of their enemies. Why does this happen? One basic question the narrative poses has to do with the nature of Demetrio and his men. Are they virtuous rebels fighting for the people against an oppressive government, a band of cutthroats using the revolution as a pretext to murder and pillage, or something in between? Discuss the narrative techniques used to get at this question.

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The narrative techniques that Mariano Azuela uses to question the moral makeup of Demetrio and his men include diction and dialogue.

The words Azuela uses tend to be exact and unsentimental. The lack of feeling might give the reader a hint that Demetrio and the fighters aren’t the most heartfelt people. The way that Azuela presents the characters and events in The Underdogs adds to the iciness. In the first chapter, as Demetrio’s house burns, Azuela doesn’t use words that give readers a glimpse into what he’s feeling or thinking. He ends the chapter with an ellipsis. The next chapter starts with Demetrio rallying the men in the valley.

Even when the diction points to feeling, it doesn’t expand upon them in great detail. In part 3, chapter 2, Azuela, according to E. Munguia Jr.’s translation, writes, “Demetrio was very sad.” This presents feeling more like a tangible fact than an abstract condition to explore. The clipped, stoic diction makes it possible to claim that Demetrio and his men are as cutthroat as their enemies.

Dialogue, too, indicates that the revolutionaries are not so different from their foes. As Quail says in part 3, chapter 2, “These are bad times and you’ve got to take advantage of everythin’.” Like the government fighters, the rebels have given themselves permission to plunder and pillage. When Demetrio and Quail return to Juchipila in part 3, chapter 5, they discuss the tepid reception. Demetrio says, “They don’t like us no more.” Quail replies, “But why should they like us?” Quail’s question substantiates the claim that they’ve become as destructive and harmful as those they fought.

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