Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo and Religion

731 Words3 Pages
Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo and Religion

In the novel Pedro Paramo, Juan Rulfo uses religiousness as a characteristic

that contrasts with the characters lack of moral codes and lack of faith

normally attributed to religion. The people in the town of Comala are obsessed

with the afterlife and prayer, and they even attend church regularly, but these

are just habits that have lost their original meaning. Rulfo uses these symbolic

activities to make the charactersÕ dichotomous nature more apparent. Father

Renter'aÕs occupation, the town priest, demands integrity, purity, and the

power to believe his own teachings. Father Renter'a might, at one time, have

had those attributes but something changed him. The realization and

consequences of his own conflictive nature haunt Renter'a, and the town

subconsciously senses his anguish, thus shedding light on ComalaÕs religious

and psychological condition. A question arises about Renter'aÕs

disillusionment with religion: Did the townspeople make Renter'a cynical or did

his doubts lead them astray? I think it was more of the former, and the catalyst

in Renter'aÕs religious failing was just one man: Miguel Paramo. Miguel

Paramo killed Father Renter'aÕs brother and raped Renter'aÕs niece Ana.

These events were merely taken in stride with Renter'aÕs philosophy of Ònever

hate anyoneÓ but it was the death of Miguel that dashed Renter'aÕs religious

beliefs. Father Renter'a performed the funeral ceremony and did not offer a

final benediction partly for selfish reasons of revenge, using his pastoral robe

as a barrier. Disregarding Renter'aÕs condescending remarks of Miguel, Pedro

Paramo offered gold to the priest as restitution, or a bribe, and said, ÒWeigh

him and forgive him, as perhaps God has forgiven him.Ó At ParamoÕs defiance,

Renter'a realized that his religious power was no longer effective or revered in

Comala, because ParamoÕs gold was now the controlling force in the land.

Crushed and depressed, Renter'a no longer felt worthy of his office; ÒWhat

has their faith won them? Heaven? Or the purification of their souls? And why

purify their souls anyway, at the last momentÉÓ Renter'a had lost all faith in

his religion and himself. As if he had failed a test, he says, ÒAlright Lord, you

win.Ó Father Renter'a represents the constant struggle a person has to

maintain personal integrity against outside corruption and personal vices.

More about Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo and Religion

Open Document