The Death of Artemio Cruz

by Carlos Fuentes

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Who is Artemio Cruz's greatest love, and how does he fight for it during the Revolution?

Quick answer:

Artemio Cruz's life parallels the Revolution. He sees the Revolution as an opportunity to get rich and after Regina's death he becomes a leader of the opposition, fighting against those he previously fought for. The Revolution failed to fulfill its promises and this story is told through Artemio's experiences.

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Artemio's great love is a Native American girl named Regina. She is a soldadera, a camp follower, and they meet while sitting on a beach. Their relationship is described as pure and perfect. Regina is captured and hanged by Cruz's opponents at the beginning of the revolution. Artemio's romantic, open, and honest side seems to die with her. This is a turning point in Artemio's life as he turns into a deserter and an opportunist. He becomes what he originally was fighting against, a corrupt, wealthy landowner. He never opens up his heart again to anyone, using his power to ruin other men's lives.

The dominant theme in the works of Fuentes is the search for Mexican national identity. This book highlights the failure of post-revolutionary Mexico to put the goals of the Revolution into place. Through Artemio Cruz, Fuentes tells us the story of those people who began the Revolution as idealists, fighting for the rights of the peasants who worked hard for the landowners. Then, just like Cruz, those idealists became what they hated most and continued to use their wealth and power corruptly.

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