Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Jalisco (hah-LEES-koh). West-central Mexican state in which Rulfo grew up and which he used as a backdrop in most of his work. Rulfo also produced numerous photographs of the area, which vividly portray its people and places, as do his writings. Rulfo’s laconic writing style imitates the speech patterns of the region. He depicts the pessimism and despair he felt about much of rural Mexico as it lost residents to better jobs in the cities and across the U.S. border.


Comala. Fictionalized version of a real Mexican town in the state of Colima, not far from where Rulfo was born in neighboring Jalisco. These places appear both on maps and in Rulfo’s novel; however, the real places are greatly transformed in the novel. Comala is described as being so hot that former residents who end up in Hell must come home to fetch their blankets.

Rulfo’s fictional Comala is controlled by the iron hand of its patrón, Pedro Páramo. When he decides that the townspeople show insufficient respect upon the death of his wife, he turns his back on the town and lets it die. Like many other Mexican villages, it becomes virtually a ghost town after its young people leave to find employment in big cities, leaving behind only the elderly, who stay to care for the graves of their dead.

Pedro Páramo’s name itself, which means “rocky barren place” in Spanish, symbolizes the barren place...

(The entire section is 417 words.)