Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 357
"Tell Them Not to Kill Me!" is a short story by Mexican writer Juan Rulfo. The story centers on an act of murder, the eventual capture, and the ultimate execution of the murderer, Juvencio Nava. The first element that is prominent in the story is the realistic portrayal of the "ranchero" life. The murder that Juvencio committed goes from a simplistic case of homicide to a glimpse into the complex nature of capitalism, pride, and morality.
The landowner that Juvencio killed was by no means a saint, but the deed that Juvencio committed provokes the question of whether anything can justify killing someone. In that regard, another question arises: are modern readers applying their era's laws and social rules to a time and place that had different customs?
Although murder was obviously illegal during the time that the story was set in and in the place that it happened, the rancher culture of the period had its own hyper-localized unofficial laws, such as hanging cattle thieves during the frontier days of Mexico and parts of the United States. The capture and eventual execution of the main character explores the intricate dynamic between justice—which are man-made laws—and morality, which is a subjective philosophical idea.
However, the readers get to see the perspective of the victim's now-grown son. He, the one who captures Juvencio, reveals that capturing him was his way of avenging his father's murder. He describes becoming an orphan, growing up without a father, and dealing with the psychological trauma of his father's death. In this regard, it is difficult for the reader to feel sympathy for Juvencio.
The title of the story itself is interesting in that the character is not only pleading to his son to save him from incarceration, but he is pleading to those around him to save him from the consequences of his own misdeeds. His one act of killing another man had essentially imprisoned him for the remainder of his life, and Juvencio is crying out one last time, full of regret, for a higher power to liberate him from the nightmare he had himself created many years before.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 244
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...
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