Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 362
The themes of El Señor Presidente by Miguel Ángel Asturias are loyalty, the negative effects of a dictatorship, and reality versus fiction.
Loyalty is a major theme in the novel. Miguel Angel Face is the President's favorite advisor, who carries out any business that the President has. When he meets Camila and falls in love with her, he sees things from the other side more than ever before. He's no longer sure whether he can be loyal to the President and worthy of Camila. When his marriage to Camila offends the President, he's put in jail until he dies there, convinced she's become the President's mistress.
The negative effects of dictatorship are another set of themes that encompass the novel. The actions of the President guide the entire book. When Canales and Cavajal are accused of murdering the Colonel at the beginning of the book, it's at the dictate of the President. When Miguel Angel Face convinces Canales to flee, it's at the whim of the President. As Canales travels, he sees how people live in fear and poverty because of the government. This convinces him to fight back, even though he dies before he can lead his revolution. Miguel Angel Face also sees the effects of the President's dictatorship as friends and family reject Camila for her father's supposed crimes.
Reality versus fiction plays a large role in the lives of everyone in the novel. The story starts with a beggar murdering a Colonel. This is used to accuse two people of murder at the President's whim; the police torture beggars who witnessed the incident until they agree to say the two men did it. Later, Canales dies after believing that his daughter's wedding to Miguel Angel Face was attended by the President. Actually, he wasn't there. In jail, Miguel Angel Face dies believing that Camila is the President's mistress. She is not. She moves to the country with their son. The inability to tell fact from fiction and trust things like the police and media are important factors in the novel. They create strain in the lives of the characters and show how a dictatorship can continue to function.
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