“The Departure of Martín Fierro,” 1872
Martín Fierro (mahr-TEEN FYEH-rroh), the central character. He sings of his misfortunes and adventures on the Argentine pampa (open plain), where he can live by his skills and enjoy nature’s beauty. Born to sing, he celebrates the life and character of the gaucho, whom he typifies. He is fearless and quick in a fight, and he is truthful in speech. His greatest joy is to live free. The life of the gaucho is not easy. Fate and corrupt officials are responsible for the many injustices he and his kind have suffered. His own misfortunes began when a judge took him from his wife and children, sending him away to the army to fight the Indians. Forced to perform hard labor without pay and treated brutally by those in charge, he deserts after two years, returning home to find his family and possessions gone. He soon kills a black man in a barroom brawl, then a drunken bully. With his new companion, Cruz, he sets out for the wildlands, breaking his guitar as a final gesture.
Cruz (crewz), who, with several other policemen, attempts to arrest Martín for murder. Admiring Martín’s bravery, Cruz helps him escape. A gaucho himself, he too has endured many hardships with an unbroken spirit. Like Martín, he enjoys the freedom of the outlaw life and is convinced that the gaucho is persecuted and doomed to suffer unremitting hardships. It is better, he says at the end, to wander free in the highlands.