Benito Juárez Critical Essays

Dennis Wepman


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

As a work specifically written for a young adult audience, Wepman’s biography is the story of an individual from very humble beginnings who aggressively sought an education and became an inspiration not only to one particular generation or nation but also to the world. Juárez, like his hero Abraham Lincoln, championed the cause of justice and equality for all before the law.

While the author’s sympathies are apparent, he does attempt to create an objective account of Juárez’s character and career. He emphasizes the description of the leader as “a man of the people, and it was the people he served, not the wealthy landowners or the rich, powerful institutions” and portrays Juárez as a person who kept his word. Throughout his life, the leader remained unwavering in his respect for all oppressed peoples.

In his discussion of the early and middle years of Juárez’s life, Wepman stresses the tactical skills required to maintain alliances with powerful individuals on both sides of the political spectrum, both liberals and conservatives. For Juárez’s later years, however, during the period of La Reforma (the reform), Wepman presents the leader as an individual who was dedicated to making Mexico a democratic society, regardless of the enemies that he made.

Wepman portrays the Catholic church as a monolithic institution wielding enormous power in Mexico. This institution controlled schools, owned vast amounts of property, had a privileged legal status, and took in annual revenues approximately five times greater than those to the...

(The entire section is 648 words.)