Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

College of San Ildefonso

College of San Ildefonso (eel-DAY-fohn-soh). College in Mexico City at which Pedro Sarmiento (also called “Poll”) does not learn to behave but picks up the rude habits of his classmates, even though he eventually is awarded a bachelor’s degree. In his satire of the university system, José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi demonstrates that a college degree is neither difficult to obtain nor, ultimately, useful.

Januario’s hacienda

Januario’s hacienda. Country estate owned by the father of Pedro’s classmate Januario, whom he visits after he obtains his degree. Unable to ride a horse or fight a bull, he makes a fool of himself in front of Januario’s family and is sent back to the city.

Monastery of San Diego

Monastery of San Diego. Franciscan monastery that Pedro enters to avoid having to learn a trade. However, he soon finds that he cannot stand the monks’ life of religious devotion and sacrifice and is glad when his father’s death gives him an excuse to leave the monastery. He then returns to a life of gambling and debauchery.


Prisons. Penal institutions in which Pedro is imprisoned for petty crimes and misdemeanors several times. Lizardi provides an unflinching description of the colonial prisons’ hellish conditions. While incarcerated, the prisoners continue to gamble and steal. Lizardi exposes the corruption of the penal system through the character of Don Antonio, an innocent man...

(The entire section is 632 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bell, Steven M. “Mexico.” In Handbook of Latin American Literature, edited by David William Foster. 2d ed. New York: Garland, 1992. The section on The Itching Parrot shows that Fernández de Lizardi did not seek to entertain the colonial nobility in his novel but instead to enlighten the masses.

Cros, Edmond. “The Values of Liberalism in El Periquillo Sarniento.” Sociocriticism 2 (December, 1985): 85-109. Studies the relationship between the Spanish colony of New Spain and its metropolis through the relationship between father and son, which the first-person novel relies upon as a guiding theme.

Franco, Jean. An Introduction to Spanish-American Literature. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1969. The section on El periquillo sarniento argues that Fernández de Lizardi represents a new type of Spanish American, one for whom the newspaper served as a weapon, and contends that Poll is too passive a hero to be sympathetic to the modern reader.

González, Aníbal. Journalism and the Development of Spanish American Narrative. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993. The section on El periquillo sarniento argues that the main character is an allegory of the journalist and of the duplicitous nature of writing.

Vogeley, Nancy. “Defining the ‘Colonial Reader.’” PMLA 102, no. 5 (1987): 784-800. Argues that Fernández de Lizardi’s aim in writing the novel was to challenge readers’ expectations that a literary work should follow European standards and have an elevated style. Argues that Fernández de Lizardi created a new genre and a new readership.