The Mexican Revolution: Mariano Azuela’s The Underdogs
In Mario Azuela’s novel The Underdogs, how does the experience of the Mexican revolution differ (or not differ) for the characters Luis Cervantes and War Paint?
In comparing the way in which Luis Cervantes and War Paint each experience the Mexican Revolution, it must be said that despite faring differently, they have fundamentally the same intake on the war. In both cases, it can be seen that the characters are primarily interested in looking after their best interest. At some point (although this is highly debatable) they may have truly believed in the revolutionary cause, but in the end it becomes clear that for both of them the Mexican Revolution stands out as an opportunity for personal gain.
First, when talking about Luis Cervantes, it should be noted that he is a member of the middle class. He is a man who has some education; he initially joins the revolutionaries because he believes in the revolutionary cause and wishes to overthrow the federalist government. Upon joining Demetrio Macias’ group, however, he soon comes to terms with the reality that the revolutionaries have no true cause; they are simply striving to take power and riches for their own benefit (not for the people’s). Upon coming to this realization, he gives way to his own ambitions and greed; he starts to view the revolution as a means for him to advance himself as much as possible. During his time with the rebels, he gains Macias’s trust and becomes one of his closest advisors. When the rebels start losing, however, he abandons the group and flees to the United States. Having left Mexico, he eventually writes a letter to a former companion, Venancio, advising him to join him in the United States so that they can start a business together: “Don't hesitate, Venancio, come at once and bring your funds. I promise you we'll get rich in no time” (Azuela, n.d., p. 55). Clearly, Luis Cervantes did not believe that the Mexican Revolution would improve things for society as a whole. The Mexican people would forever be the underdogs; each man had to look after himself.
In War Paint’s case, it can be seen that she is a woman that shows herself as an ambitious, calculating woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants from the very beginning. She is a woman who has no real affiliation with the revolution. She does not join Demetrio Macias’s group for the revolutionary cause (one that the group itself fails to stand up for), but rather to benefit from the spoils. Also, it should be noted that her loyalty for Macias springs from her infatuation for him. She wants to be his one and only mistress; she wants the recognition and commodities of being the leader’s woman. In the end, she finds that the revolution is not what she expected; she has failed to become Macias’s one and only. Out of spite, she turns on the group and ends up killing Camilla (who is Macias’ mistress) before leaving the group permanently.
War Paint stared slowly at everyone about her. It all took no more than a few seconds. In a trice she bent down, drew a sharp, gleaming dagger from her stocking and leapt at Camilla. A shrill cry. A body fell, the blood spurting from it.
Based on this, it can be seen that War Paint, much like Luis Cervantes, was an ambitious woman who saw the Mexican Revolution as a means of getting what she wanted. Of course, her methods were much more aggressive (and violent) than Cervantes’s, which can be explained largely by the fact that he was a member of the Mexican middle class, and was therefore more educated. In the end, however, differences notwithstanding, both characters show themselves as greedy, ambitious characters that do not fight for the revolutionary cause. They do not fight for the people’s benefit, but rather for their own benefit.