Absurdism: the Cure for Hope Essay

Absurdism: the Cure for Hope Essay

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In Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo, hope, or rather the lack of hope, is used to demonstrate how acceptance is an act of self-preservation, not defeat. Futile hope leads characters in the novels to despair which can only be resolved by giving up the hope which sustains it. By examining the ways in which characters in Pedro Paramo respond to either the preservation or the disillusion of their hope, this essay will determine how that response illustrates the basic principles of absurdism within the texts.
Absurdism maintains that all things must be inevitably pointless. As much can be said of the hope existent in Pedro Paramo. Although the residents of Comala in Pedro Paramo seem to be permanently trapped in purgatory, they still “try to be good so that [their] time in purgatory will be shortened” (Rulfo 60). A rigid, Catholic culture has taught them that the purpose of their lives is to get to Heaven. However, no one in Comala has much chance of reaching salvation. “The town sits…at the very mouth of hell” and none of Comala’s residents are free of sin. Even Father Rentira, the only man in Comala who can grant such salvation, “cannot continue to consecrate other when [he] [himself] [is] in sin” (Rulfo 71). Thus, heaven is unreachable even for the dead. So why don’t the villagers just give up? In life they did not try to change their sinful ways and in death their restless spirits wander Comala “looking for living people to pray for [them]” (Rulfo 66). The hope of reaching heaven is so strong that it has firmly attached these people to the past, to their old lives that ended in what their religion deems an ultimate failure. The novel also shows these people living through their memories in a circular progression of time. Rulfo is showing...

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...o Paramo and The Stranger. Dorotea is able to move on from her past life and, in doing so, saves herself from the regret and disappointment experienced by the villagers of Comala and Pedro Paramo. While absurdism is not overtly mentioned in the book, the fact that both Dorotea recognizes the insignificance of her life and what she thought was important, chooses to sever her attachment to these worthless things, and finds contentment in her situation as it is establishes the absurdist tone of her actions. Rulfo chooses to accentuate the hopelessness of this characters’ situations to highlight the one response that is different than all the others. The rejection of hope gives Dorotea freedom in purgatory and liberates her even though she is trapped in Purgatory.

Works Cited

Rulfo, Juan, and Margaret Sayers Peden. Pedro Páramo. New York: Grove Press, 1994. Print.

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