Style and Technique
Rulfo is noted for his powerful evocation of scene, for the sense of place created in his work. He employs dialogue and popular speech to add to the realism of the social situations depicted. All five senses are invoked as the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes of the landscape are described. The reader can feel the impact of the hard, rugged life of the region. Rulfo’s literary devices include some repetition, as in this story, to underscore a character’s desperate psychological state. The reader can feel Juvencio’s fear and dread as he thinks about the events leading up to his capture. The heat, the dust, the harshness of the scene are all conjured up for the reader’s imaginative consideration.
Rulfo also varies verb tenses in order to illustrate alternations between past and present, between memory and current reality; events are not revealed in a directly linear, chronological order. A character’s memory is used to portray the past, and dialogue among characters is interspersed with the protagonist’s own thoughts. Rulfo utilizes language in a disciplined, economical style. His setting often is one of intense and grinding poverty, desperation, and desolation; towns are seen to be depopulating as people seek a better life elsewhere. Sometimes only the dead are left behind, as in his novel Pedro Páramo (1955), with its use of Magical Realism (joining the possible with the imaginary). His stories, in contrast, are predominantly and truly realistic.