Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Rudolfo A. Anaya’s interest in the close relationship between New Mexico’s geography and local Chicano folk stories, or cuentos, is in evidence in “The Man Who Found a Pistol.” A native of Santa Rosa, a rural town on the New Mexican llano, Anaya has expressed his literary debt to that region’s geography: “It’s harsh environment. I remember most that sense of landscape which is bleak, empty, desolate, across which the wind blows and makes music.” That locale takes on the surrealist tone of a land forgotten by the gods, which reserves for itself numerous supernatural secrets. Nature will reveal its enigmata only to the truly observant character, attuned to his own primal universe.

The metaphysical quest for the true self takes place in the geopolitical concept of Aztlán, the southwestern region United States, presented by Anaya and by other Chicano authors as a place of prophesy. Thus Aztlán’s myths, represented in the local folklore of the Native American, the Spanish, the Mexican, or the Chicano, take on a cosmological dimension or, as defined by Anaya, the mirror by which people know themselves. Anaya states that as a Chicano writer his purpose is “to remind our people about their history and their traditions and their culture and their language, things that are under threat, and liable to disappear if we don’t look closely at ourselves in a historical process.”

“The Man Who Found a Pistol” sets two...

(The entire section is 475 words.)