Oppression of the Powerless as a Tool for Character Development in Pedro Páramo
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In Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo, various forms of oppressive behavior are manifested in the town of Comala – these range from the simple, readily apparent abuse of power to keep a population in line, as Pedro Páramo, having complete control over Comala, regularly does, to the very sinister use of religion as a means of reinforcing the patriarchal ideal held by contemporary Mexican society. In describing the oppression of society-at-large, Rulfo shows the sinister relationship that exists between power and the corruption of one’s moral standards through Pedro Páramo and Father Rentería.
It has been said of power that it corrupts they who hold it, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. In looking at the oppression of the powerless for the sake of Pedro Páramo’s bastard son, there has never been a more apropos statement with reference to both the father and to the man who forgives him on behalf of God. While Miguel Páramo was never punished while he was amongst the living due to his father’s immense influence and wealth, Father Rentería had the opportunity to, as the priest in Comala, condemn Miguel for his abhorrent crimes against humanity – not the least of which included the rape of Rentería’s niece Ana and the murder of her father – by not giving his final blessing, which would have resulted in his condemnation to Hell for time immemorial – a punishment truly befitting of such an awful human being. When it came down to it, though, the Father bent to the hand of Pedro