“just a small town girl”

1475001075146Yuri Herrera is an author that is not afraid to unmask the hardships of “illegal” people in his novel, “Signs Preceding the End if the World.” The Mexican writer explicitly reveals the feelings of Makina, a “smart and schooled” (76) young woman from a Little Town (12) trying to get to the “Other” side to find her brother.

Makina is not your average girl next door or migrator. This girl is a trusted “messenger” who can speak three different languages and take care of herself, whether it be by wit or violence. She is a kind of reluctant hero who has a clear mission and stands by it. She isn’t going to the other side to fool around or get attached. Makina will find her “lost” brother and return home rather than get seduced by “a little land” (38).

Herrera points out the truth that many, including myself, have ignored for so long. This country is the “land of the free” and it’s where everyone comes to make their dreams come true because they want to, right?

In the case of Makina, and so many others, it seems like it’s less of a choice to resettle or crossover into the unknown abyss and more of a necessity. Makina isn’t leaving her home, family, lover, and people to become some great American hero. She has no choice but to go into an unknown and strange land if she ever wants to see her brother again. She isn’t excited to see this shiny new city with “an edgy arrangement of cement particles and yellow paint” (56). She sees past this glossy exterior to determine that “her compatriots, her homegrown” are “just there to take orders” (57).

That makes total sense to me, because in a way, that is how we live when we don’t have much of a say. As an “illegal” human being in America there are many things you can’t do. You can’t vote, you can’t get financial help, you can’t go to school sometimes, you can’t you can’t you can’t. The voice of an “illegal” is mute in this country by orders of the supreme ruler, the villain of the story. It’s no wonder that for Makina, this “Other” side does not have much of an appeal, even in comparison to her poor and torn Little Town. At least there she has her family, lover, loyal people. She is someone there.


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