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“The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution” is Mariano Azuela’s fictional account of the Mexican Revolution. Originally published as a newspaper serial in 1915, then as a complete novel in 1920, it was first translated into English in 1929 and was a critical and financial success. Based closely on Azuela’s own experiences, it is the story of Demetrio Macias, a peasant who is mistreated by government soldiers and must flee his home. He runs to the mountains and forms a group of revolutionaries to help overthrow the corrupt dictator, Porfirio Diaz. Macias and his comrades are a motley group of outcasts who are often unsure of what precisely they are fighting for and are sometimes no better than the cruel government they are rebelling against. Rather than a simple struggle of honorable peasants against an unjust government, Azuela’s tale is sophisticated and nuanced and captures in stunning detail the lives of the poor, the passion of the revolutionaries, and the heartbreaking disillusionment they must often face. In Azuela’s depiction of Demetrio Macias, he captures the complicated spirit of the Mexican people and his masterful telling of this conflict between the rebels and the federales helped to establish him as one of Mexico’s preeminent novelists.
The novel seems to offer a number of opportunities for writing responses. Compare the Mexico of Demetrio Macias with the Mexico or the United States of today. How is power or wealth allocated in societies? etc.