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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 409

Manilo Argueta's novel One Day of Life is hard to read. It doesn't have big words or complicated themes or a convoluted plot; it's a difficult text because it tells the story of life under a repressive, violent dictatorship. In this way, it's similar to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's story One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. In that one, though, the violence is mostly psychological. Here, in Argueta's novel, the violence is in your face, relentless and overpowering. We won't summarize the book's contents here. Rather, we'll analyze it. You should read it, and you should check out the excellent study guide available on this website.

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In 1979, junior officers of the Salvadoran army deposed the violent and repressive regime of President Carols Romero. That coup d'etat set off a civil war, in which opposing sides were backed by the US and the USSR. That made El Salvador a proxy battleground in the Cold War, which is why the Salvadorans involved became irreconcilable. Left-wing and communist insurgents backed by the Soviet Union fought right-wing paramilitary groups allied with the army and backed by America. Death squads, child soldiers, and atrocities were commonplace.

Into this whirlwind came One Day of Life . It was published in 1980, the first year of the civil war, so it wasn't about the war. It was about living with the physical and emotional trauma inflicted on ordinary people by the dictatorships and broken politics of the post-Second-World-War period. It was certainly apropos of the time, and it has since become associated with the civil war, but it was more about that war's...

(The entire section contains 409 words.)

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