Artemio's great love is a Native American girl named Regina.
She is a soldadera, a camp follower, and they meet while
sitting on a beach. Their relationship is described as pure and
perfect. Regina is captured and hanged by Cruz's opponents at the
beginning of the revolution. Artemio's romantic, open, and honest
side seems to die with her. This is a turning point in Artemio's
life as he turns into a deserter and an opportunist. He becomes
what he originally was fighting against, a corrupt, wealthy
landowner. He never opens up his heart again to anyone, using his
power to ruin other men's lives.
The dominant theme in the works of Fuentes is the search for
Mexican national identity. This book highlights the failure of
post-revolutionary Mexico to put the goals of the Revolution into
place. Through Artemio Cruz, Fuentes tells us the story of those
people who began the Revolution as idealists, fighting for the
rights of the peasants who worked hard for the landowners. Then,
just like Cruz, those idealists became what they hated most and
continued to use their wealth and power corruptly.