It follows a labyrinthine structure in which the past is interspersed with the present, sometimes in ways that are not clear until halfway through a section. Much of the responsibility for crafting a chronological narrative falls to the reader. Furthermore, there are several narrators, some first-person and some third-person omniscient. This short summary will present events more or less as they unfold in the novel, though with some synthesis of events for the sake of a more cohesive summary. As he approaches, a man on a burro, Abundio , overtakes him and leads him down to the valley. He introduces Juan to the large expanse of land around Comala, called the Media Luna.
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It follows a labyrinthine structure in which the past is interspersed with the present, sometimes in ways that are not clear until halfway through a section. Much of the responsibility for crafting a chronological narrative falls to the reader. Furthermore, there are several narrators, some first-person and some third-person omniscient. This short summary will present events more or less as they unfold in the novel, though with some synthesis of events for the sake of a more cohesive summary.
As he approaches, a man on a burro, Abundio , overtakes him and leads him down to the valley. He introduces Juan to the large expanse of land around Comala, called the Media Luna. Once in the village, Juan finds it is deserted. She tells him that the voices of the dead can be heard in Comala, and confesses she knew he was coming, as his mother sent a message despite being dead.
Juan tries to tell her about his aunt whom he grew up with, but she ignores him. She tells him about the night Miguel died, and seems sad about it. He is young and poor, and he pines for a girl named Susana who had left the village long before. He is reprimanded by his family for dreaming, and they send him to run errands. He later gets a job but shows an independent streak that keeps him from impressing his family. His memories shift to the moment when his father died, and the anger he felt over it.
He is further haunted by memories of having denied Eduviges atonement because she killed herself, a hypocrisy considering he had forgiven Miguel for worse sins. Suddenly, Damiana Cisneros , another childhood friend of his mother, arrives and takes him to her house. She tells him the cries he heard were those of Toribio Aldrete , a man Pedro had murdered for refusing to cooperate with his takeover of the Media Luna.
The reader is introduced to adult Pedro, and his attempts to purchase the entire Media Luna. Their first target is Dolorita Preciado who will later give birth to Juan. His first order of business is the murder of the man whose ghost Juan heard.
In the present, as Damiana walks Juan through town, she explains to him that many spirits haunt Comala, reliving their past lives. After she suddenly disappears from his sight, he overhears several conversations from spirits, most about Pedro. He begins to wonder whether he should leave the village, when a woman taps him on the shoulder and invites him to her home. Donis and his sister are involved in an incestuous relationship, which has particularly scarred the sister.
They seem to be alive, and invite him to stay. The next morning, he overhears them wondering whether his presence will damn their house. Donis is out when he awakes, and so the sister explains the extent of her misery living alone in Comala in such an unhealthy relationship.
Donis returns, and he and his sister leave together. He spends several days caught between sleep and waking. She tells him that Donis has left, perhaps forever, and that Juan can now take care of her. He wakes again later feeling stifled from the heat, and escapes out into the town square where, unable to breathe, he dies.
Juan then wakes underground, buried next to a woman named Dorotea. The rest of the novel involves their conversation and the voices they overhear. She challenges his account of his death, and he admits he died not from asphyxiation but from the "murmuring. Miguel is told about Dorotea, who, when alive, was a simpleton desperate to have a baby, and he recruits her to collect women for him in exchange for pay. Later, Pedro is woken to find that Miguel has died, having been thrown off his galloping horse as the reader earlier learned from Eduviges.
The father feels no sadness but knows he is beginning to pay for his sins. The priest recalls how he sought atonement for his own sins from a colleague in Contla, but was denied.
Dorotea explains to Juan how Susana, after returning in adulthood to Comala, was married quickly to Pedro, even though she was mentally unstable. Pedro was madly in love with her, and when she died, he gave up on life and let Comala and the surrounding countryside all of which he owned slowly die off. This is what led to the mass exodus from Comala, and the suffering that has followed many spirits into the afterlife. He had been searching for them for many years, and finally lured them back with the promise of a house.
There is a strong implication that he and Susana are involved in an incestuous relationship. Meanwhile, news is brought to Pedro that don Fulgor has been killed by a burgeoning revolution against the landowning class of rural Mexico. Pedro sends for the revolutionary leaders, and also recruits a mercenary named El Tilcuate to infiltrate the movement.
When the leaders arrive, they are clearly disorganized and easy to manipulate, and Pedro convinces them to accept money and men from him, amongst whose number will be El Tilcuate. Pedro has continued to rape young women because he is unwilling to force himself on Susana, but he is terribly sad over her condition. Pedro convinces El Tilcuate to continue to fight, but to leave him alone.
When Comala coincidentally holds a fiesta in the days following her death, the grieved and angry Pedro promises to destroy them, which he ultimately does in the way previously explained by Dorotea. Pedro then retreats into an idle, depressive life, where he sits outside his house all day and does nothing.
Abundio, the guide who first brought Juan into Comala, is introduced in the context of the past. He gets drunk and stumbles around until he ends up begging money from Pedro, who denies him. Without knowing what he is doing, Abundio stabs Pedro and Damiana, who tried to protect the don. Though men arrive quickly to take Abundio away, Pedro slowly dies, thinking of Susana all the while, and happy to finally be released.
Synopsis[ edit ] The novel is set in the town of Comala, considered to be Comala in the Mexican state of Colima. Juan suggests that he did not intend to keep this promise until he was overtaken by visions of his mother. His narration is interspersed with fragments of dialogue from the life of his father, who lived in a time when Comala was a robust, living town, instead of the ghost town it has become. Juan encounters one person after another in Comala, each of whom he perceives to be dead. Midway through the novel, Preciado dies. The two major competing narrative voices present alternative visions of Comala, one living and one full of the spirits of the dead.
Pedro Paramo Summary