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March to the Monteria

Essay by review  •  January 9, 2011  •  Essay  •  537 Words (3 Pages)  •  775 Views

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March to The Monteria

Short Book Essay

In March to the Monteria, B. Traven explores the state of indentured slavery under Porfirio Diaz within Mexico's indigenous people. The ramifications of the Diaz regime are illustrated through Celso's horrific toil in a mahogany plantation. It is through Celso's story that Traven is able to clearly demonstrate the Chamula's exploitation at the hands of the Mexican government. Unable to openly challenge authority, Celso and the other workers must endure painstaking labor conditions. However, it is these same oppressive conditions that explode into violence in the Mexican jungle. Ultimately, Celso's need to retaliate against the very people who have stolen his desires to return to his village, has provided him with no extrinsic rewards. Nevertheless, the author compares the beginning of Celso's consciousness to an awakening within the Mexican people, consequently leading to the Mexican revolution.

After years of laboring in the monterias to save enough money for a future with his love, Celso finds himself learning to work with the structures of power. Able to work the system to his advantage, Celso works the fields without incidence and soon after is on his way home. Blissful to finally be getting back to the woman he loves, Celso becomes aware of his value to the plantations and their investments after he is captured and sent back to the monterias. It is not the agents who Celso grew to resent, but rather the coyotes and capataces. This system of exploitation was so intertwined, so perplexing, that it was unclear to Celso who the true individual responsible for his rage really was. Like Celso,

it was impossible for [the peons] to comprehend that their fate was determined not by the agents or the contratistas of the monterias but by the dictator, whose actions, in turn, were influenced by the idea that the welfare of the Republic was guaranteed only if native and foreign capital was granted unlimited freedom . . . . (Travern 159).

Although written as a fictional narrative, March to Monteria exemplifies the circumstances surrounding the Diaz regime. While Celso himself may be a fictional character in this novel, the situations that existed in his world of peonage and debt slavery unmistakably portray the abuse of the Mexican government. The monterias, which survived because

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