In Men of Maize, the primary myth involved is the Mayan myth of the creation of humanity, in which several gods created human beings from maize. The idea that maize is not just food for human beings to eat but also the material from which they were made runs through Miguel Ángel Asturias’s novel. The fundamental importance of maize is borne out in the small-scale maize farmers. Because they consume the vital maize as a sacred food as well as propagate and care for it, they represent the continuity of the Mayan people.
More generally, qualities of myth associated with time figure significantly in Asturias’s conceptual and thematic treatment. One key concept is that time is cyclical rather than linear, so that at different moments, important events (or very similar variants of them) recur—even the world’s creation. Closely related is the idea that divine spirit as manifested in one person will periodically reappear; this is represented in this novel through the idealized hero Gaspar Ilom.