Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Irony and the Priest in Fragment 14 of Juan Rulfo's Pedro Páramo

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2006), 83, (3), 203–224.

Abstract

Despite being pivotal to the destiny of the characters, el padre Rentería remains a frequently ignored character in studies of Rulfo's novel Pedro Páramo. His emotional and intellectual complexity make him the ideal vehicle for Rulfo's ironic treatment of the manicheistic rhetoric of Church and state in post-Revolutionary Mexico. His complicity with the cacique Pedro Páramo opposes the Church's favoured image of the priest as a pious martyr. However, his anguished sense of responsibility towards his parishioners also fails to accord with the state's projection of the self-centred priest who connives with the local cacique. Whilst the Church's martyrological image is based on desire (positive iconography), the state's demonised projection is based on both desire and fear (fetishistic stereotyping). In this article I contend that Rulfo uses verbal and situational irony in Fragment 14 of the novel to create an image of the post-Revolutionary priest which subverts those projected by the rhetoric of Church and state.

A pesar de su importancia fundamental en el destino de los personajes, el padre Rentería permanece un personaje ignorado con frecuencia en estudios sobre la novela de Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo. Su complejidad emocional e intelectual hace de él un vehículo ideal para el tratamiento irónico de Rulfo de la retórica maniqueísta de la Iglesia y Estado en el México posrevolucionario. Su complicidad con el cacique Pedro Páramo se opone a la imagen de mártires piadosos preferida por la iglesia. Sin embargo, su sentido angustiado de responsabilidad hacia sus feligreses tampoco concuerda con la representación del Estado del sacerdote egocéntrico que actúa en connivencia con el cacique local. Mientras que la imagen martirológica de la Iglesia está basada en el deseo (iconografía positiva), el retrato demonizado del Estado está basada tanto en el deseo como en el miedo (estereotipo fetichista). En este artículo, propongo que Rulfo se sirve de la ironía verbal y situacional en el fragmento 14 de la novela para crear una imagen del sacerdote posrevolucionario que subvierte las proyectadas por la retórica de la Iglesia y Estado.

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Thakkar, Amit