In Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, the young protagonist, Makina, is on a journey across the border to deliver a message to her brother. Throughout her journey it becomes clear that outside forces and their effects are a very important not just to her but also to the story.
The very first image of the novel is that of the Earth opening up and swallowing a man, so evidently the earth is very powerful. Adding to that power, aspects of nature are sometimes personified. For example, “the sky was barely a reddish exhalation that hadn’t quite made up its mind to spread over the earth” (pg 74).
Inanimate objects are personified too, like when the inner tube was “swirling away in the current as if it had urgent business to attend to”(pg 39). These personifications help solidify the idea that there are many forces at play in the world other than just humans, and these forces help move our stories along. The world around us and the things in it all affect us and our lives just like other people do. Some, like nature, are even more powerful than we are.
Makina seems to understand this, as we can see through her attitude. She sometimes takes a back seat in her own life, allowing outside forces to propel her. When tipped into the river, she thought “it made no difference which way she headed or how fast she went, in the end she’d wind up where she needed to be”(pg 39). This attitude does help get her to her destination, as she claims she only found her brother when she stopped trying. It also gives the story a very unique tone. It’s sort of calming and it helps ease the reader’s worries, it’s not just dramatic and suspenseful like other journey stories.
Makina also shows, however, that it is important to not lose control of your life completely. She makes sure she doesn’t “get lost or captivated“ (pg 25) and “not even in make believe did she get her hopes up too high”(pg 33). While others cram their rucksacks full, she takes little on her journey, taking only what she feels she needs. She has a spark inside of her that helps her continue on even when she’s sad, and she’s practical and prepared. While she is willing to let a river carry her, she’s not afraid to bend back a guy’s finger to get him to back away from her.