The influence of Mayan literature on characterization in Men of Maize cannot be overstated. Asturias spent years studying anthropology and helped to translate the Mayan book of Genesis, or Popol Vuh. Many of the narrative features of this ancient manuscript filter into his indigenous novels. For example, character and chronological development in Men of Maize are minimal; the protagonists substitute for one another in what could be termed a character substitution principle. They are cast as friends or foes of the men of maize, and, for the most part, they are emblematic of behavior patterns. Gaspar Ilóm is a character whose portrayal evolves throughout the fiction without undergoing any psychological development. He fights for the communal values dear to the Indian in the first part of the novel, but in the chapters which follow he is portrayed as a mythic figure from a remote past, while other characters step into the limelight. The reader soon realizes that this novel does not have a hero in the conventional sense but rather a collective beneficiary, the men of maize, who profit from the moral teachings extolled by Asturias.
As the first part of the novel is typified by emblematic characters who do not develop in the traditional sense, the second part is noteworthy for the original characters who do. Here, Goyo Yic shines forth as an Everyman figure who has lost touch with the world of his forefathers. For this reason, he is...
(The entire section is 579 words.)