Zapata, Mexican Rebel Critical Context - Essay

Ronald Syme

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Zapata is one of the best-known names in twentieth century Mexican history. Popular with young readers on both sides of the Mexico-United States border, Zapata has become a romantic hero for the oppressed and a symbol of the righteous rebel. Found in many school libraries, Zapata, Mexican Rebel was written for young adults.

Syme has not tried to explain how each battle was fought during this twelve-year period of 1908 to 1920, nor has he elaborated on the personalities of the characters. By using a chronological narrative, the author has taken a complex time in Mexican history and made it accessible to his audience. Through Zapata, Mexican Rebel, Syme has successfully captured the nature of class conflict in Mexico. He has focused on Zapata, one of the men who have come to symbolize that continuing struggle. By leaving out Zapata’s personal life and concentrating on his leadership of the oppressed, Syme has not attempted to debunk Zapata as a symbol but rather has clarified that symbol. He has answered the question of what Emiliano Zapata did to be remembered. Zapata, Mexican Rebel is a valuable book for young adults who want to understand twentieth century Mexican history. For those who want to know more about Zapata and his place in history, the author has provided a limited bibliography.