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An important theme in The Death of Artemio Cruz, by Calrlos Fuentes, was the comparison of romanticism and survival. This is shown through two important characters: Artemio Cruz, and his son Lorenzo. A romantic (Lorenzo) is a being that has ideals and fights for them. They know their goals and try to achieve them, while survivors have an only goal of keeping themselves alive. The survivors live through their choices and the romantics die as heroes, but each one complements the missing half of the other.
Artemio Cruz is a typical survivor. He “knew how to fuck up other people and not get [himself] fucked over'; (PAGE 137). His choices allow him to survive and others to be killed. Although he lives through his choices, Fuentes shows through his interesting narrative device of expressing Cruz’s unconscious, thoughts and memories that he regrets and reflects upon while on his deathbed. When the second person narrator says that you “are going to live...You are going to be the meeting point, the universal order’s reason for being...Your body has a reason for being...Your life has a reason for being...You are, you will be, you were, the universe incarnate'; (PAGE 305), he is trying to show that everyone has a reason for living. Fuentes shows the reader why Artemio’s life is so important and why he believes that he is a model to the people.
Artemio Cruz lives through his choices. He chooses to be a survivor, but each time he makes a choice, he leaves part of his romantic half behind since he saved himself instead of others. Instead of following his ideals, he follows his greed. He chooses to become rich and corrupt and to abandon his dreams, but he regrets doing a lot of those things because he killed many people in order to survive, including a part of himself. He said that he “could have died at Perales...with that soldier...I survived. You died'; (PAGE 236). After everything is passed, he stops to think about what he did wrong and regrets it, but at the time, he just cared about himself. When he went to war he met Regina and they started to have a relationship, but since he is a survivor, once again he saved himself. Regina got killed, but he didn’t.
However, his son Lorenzo, has a completely different life story, but of the same importance.
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The main difference Lorenzo had from his father, that led him to be a romantic, was that while in war, Artemio Cruz let a soldier and Regina die in order to survive, while Lorenzo died himself in order to save Miguel, Dolores, Nuri and Maria. For that reason, Lorenzo is the romantic and Artemio Cruz is the survivor, but Lorenzo was Artemio’s other half. The twin brother he never had. The world today is full of survivors, but very little romantics. People do not have to die for others in order to become a romantic, all they have to do is to stop “fuck[ing] up other people'; (PAGE 137) and try to help them instead. That would make the world a much better place to live in.