It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be

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Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World constructs both literal and figural
borders that the protagonist, Makina, has to overcome. Makina is crafted to be a somewhat mysterious character who sets out on a quest to cross the border between Mexico and the United States in order to find her brother and return him to Mexico. The literal border here is quite obvious; she has to physically cross the border between Mexico and the United States with the aid of a contact that was provided to her.

While that border in an of itself provides its own challenges, Makina also faces figurative borders that are fluid and unsettled. At one point in the novel, Makina crossed over into the U.S., and saw what she thought to be a pregnant woman sitting beneath a tree which she thought to be a good omen. “a country where a woman with child walking through the desert lies right now to let her baby grow, unconcerned about anything else. But as they approached she discerned the features of this person, who was no woman, nor was that belly full with child: it was some poor wretch swollen with putrefaction, his eyes and tongue pecked out by buzzards.” (43-44)

At first, Makina was optimistic and hopeful of this new country on her quest to find her brother. As displayed within the quote, she believed it to be a country in which a woman was safe enough to lay down in the desert while she was with child but the reality was that as she approached the figure, she discovered that the figure was in shambles. The image of a pregnant woman represented birth which was a symbol of new life and a good omen. However when the figure transformed from a pregnant woman into a dead body, that representation of birth transformed into ruination.



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