Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Zapata, Mexican Rebel, Ronald Syme chronicles Emiliano Zapata’s role in the history of Mexico between 1908 and 1920. The book is a partial biography of Zapata and a history of the conflict between the peasants from rural villages, or pueblos, and government forces supported by rich landowners. The Spanish conquerors of Mexico granted communal lands called ejidos to every pueblo in Mexico. On this land, the people of the pueblo grew their food and pastured their livestock. Porfirio Díaz, the president of Mexico, confiscated the ejidos and gave them as political favors to the already rich landowners to expand their sugarcane fields. The people of the pueblos revolted against the government in order to regain the land. This conflict between social classes is the central focus of the text, as the events in the book chronicle Zapata’s role in the revolution and the restoration of the ejidos to the people of the pueblos.

Syme begins the book by putting Zapata and the events between 1908 and 1920 in perspective. He notes that the previous president of the pueblo had been part of the Mexican forces who fought to win Mexican independence from France in 1867. Thus Syme recognizes Zapata as a young leader replacing an older leader in the Mexican people’s continuing struggle against oppression. As the book ends, Zapata has been assassinated and a younger leader has taken his place. This particular struggle has been won...

(The entire section is 409 words.)