Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Mexico City hospital

*Mexico City hospital. Mexico’s capital and largest city, where Cruz is dying in a hospital bed. Fuentes confines his main character to this restrictive place to illustrate Cruz’s descent into near madness from the powerful, aggressive but tragic personality he once exhibited. Due to the limitation of the hospitalization, readers understand the conflict of a man brought face to face with his own mortality. Cruz’s decline contrasts with the character who earlier seemed to embody the spirit of Mexican nationalism. His suffering parallels the uncertain outcomes and failed idealism of the Mexican Revolution.

Cruz’s seclusion allows Fuentes to focus on his suffering protagonist’s interior life. Cruz’s memory functions as a very real place in the novel. In stark contrast to his decaying body, his memory is active, and through it readers see a number of poignant binaries: past and present, heroism and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal, love and lust, poverty and wealth, cynicism and opportunism, isolation and socialization.


Cocuya. Large estate in Mexico’s province of Veracruz with cultural ties to the nineteenth century dictator Antonio López de Santa Ana. Cruz’s mother (of African descent) was driven from this place after giving birth to her illegitimate son. This place reveals the humble origins of Artemio Cruz and may then help to explain his later drive for power...

(The entire section is 493 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In The Death of Artemio Cruz, Fuentes perfects the experimental techniques he had used in his two previous novels, Where the Air Is...

(The entire section is 384 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Mexican Revolution is remembered as a time when Mexicans were for a brief period united in their efforts to promote justice and to end...

(The entire section is 567 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Written in part in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution, The Death of Artemio Cruz expresses Carlos Fuentes' disappointment in the...

(The entire section is 124 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying (1930) is in part a model for Fuentes' book. In Faulkner's adaptation of a folk tale, a southern...

(The entire section is 109 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Jaime Ceballos is a leading character in The Good Conscience and appears in Where the Air Is Clear as the fiance of Bettina...

(The entire section is 81 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Faris, Wendy B. Carlos Fuentes. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1983. Fine overview of Fuentes’ works with considerable detailed analysis. Includes a twenty-two-page chapter that focuses solely on The Death of Artemio Cruz, discussing the novel’s plot, theme, and presentation.

Guzmán, Daniel de. Carlos Fuentes. New York: Twayne, 1972. Excellent overview of Fuentes’ life and career through the 1960’s. Discusses initial critical reception of The Death of Artemio Cruz, presents a description of the narrative and a plot summary, and considers the significance of the novel in Fuentes’ evolution as a writer.

Harss, Luis, and Barbara Dohmann. Into the Mainstream: Conversations with Latin American Writers. New York: Harper & Row, 1967. Includes a chapter entitled “Carlos Fuentes, or the New Heresy,” which provides an interview-based discussion of Fuentes and his works and includes considerable background on post-revolutionary Mexican society and literature.

Sommers, Joseph. After the Storm: Landmarks of the Modern Mexican Novel. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1968. A twelve-page discussion of The Death of Artemio Cruz treats the novel’s tone, structure, point of view, and treatment of time, followed by more detailed consideration of the work’s theme and its literary quality. Includes some comparison to Fuentes’ earlier novel Where the Air Is Clear.

Vázquez Amaral, José. The Contemporary Latin American Narrative. New York: Las Américas, 1970. A brief chapter on The Death of Artemio Cruz, part overview and part review, compares Fuentes’ novel and Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs (1915) as novels of the Mexican Revolution.