Tell Them Not to Kill Me!

by Juan Rulfo

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What impression of the main character and his situation is created by the opening dialogue of "Tell Them Not to Kill Me!" in which he begs his son to mediate?

Impressions of the main character and his situation created by the opening dialogue include desperation, helplessness, and selfishness.

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One impression that comes through in the opening dialogue in Juan Rulfo’s short story “Tell Them Not to Kill Me!” is helplessness. If Justino’s dad—whose name is Juvencio—could get himself out of his dire situation by himself, he probably wouldn’t be begging his son to mediate. The swarm of exclamation marks and the repetition of “for God’s sake” reinforce Juvencio’s desperation and his dependence on Justino.

The dialogue also gives the impression that this colonel possesses a great deal of power. Juvencio makes it seem like the colonel has the ability to kill people or to pardon them. If the colonel didn’t have such absolute authority, Juvencio likely wouldn’t be vehemently urging his son to speak to him.

As for impressions of Juvencio’s character, one gets the impression that he doesn’t want to die. Thus, Juvencio should not be interpreted as a heroic figure ready to face death without a smidgen of fear. Instead, the reader should get the impression that Juvencio, whatever is it that he may have done to deserve this (and the reader will find out soon what Juvencio has done to deserve this), is fragile and vulnerable. He is old and poor, but he’s not ready to die yet.

Finally, the opening scene supplies Juvencio with the impression of a somewhat selfish character. Juvencio’s son brings up the possibility that he could be killed too if it becomes known that Juvencio is his dad. This outcome doesn’t appear to have much of an impact on Juvencio. When his son asks who will care for his family if he is killed as well, Juvencio replies, somewhat flippantly, “Providence.”

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