What are some different examples that Urrea gives of the Devil's Highway swallowing up those who try to cross or inhabit it?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The opening to Urrea's work details how the "first white man known to die in the desert heat here [the Devil's Highway] did it on January 18, 1541."  This would be one example of how the land "swallows up" those who try to cross it.

In the earliest portion of the text, Urrea talks of how the Gold Rush featured many examples of people who died on the "Devil's Highway."  He writes about how even though it was "little more than a rough dirt trail," it continued to swallow people who tried to cross it.  Urrea writes about how "Thousands of travelers went into the desert, and piles of human bones revealed where many of them fell."  Those who tried to pass through it in search of gold and riches found themselves its victims.  In showing a historical connection, Urrea illustrates how time has not changed the character of the "devil's highway."  Whatever the purpose, death is a constant.

Urrea discusses the travelers on the Devil's Highway who are seeking to illegally enter the United States; the Devil's Highway swallows them up and leaves no clues as to their identity. The "Yuma 14" is one such group.  They were individuals who undertook the most brutal of journeys across a stretch of land that seems to enjoy taking life from anyone who progresses on it.  Like so many before, the Devil's Highway won.

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