The Journey to the Otherside


In the story of Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera we are introduced to Makina, who is the opposite of the archetypical Latina woman, who is being sent to the other side of the border in order to search & bring home her brother, a young and ambitious man who journeyed to the anglo cities across the border.

Through this journey to the other side, we are shown this idea of what the other side of the border is for people like Makina’s brother and other ambitious people who want more than their current life can provide.

First, let me direct your attention to Makina. She starts this journey by gathering favors among the underworld. Before she heads out of the Casino of Mr. Q, one of the local crime lords, we see her turn towards a mirror in which,” … in front of her was her back: she looked behind but found only the neverending front, curving forward, as if inviting her to step through its thresholds. If she crossed them all… she’d reach the right place, but it was a place she didn’t trust.” (22) which to me shows that Makina, even though she has a chance to go to the Anglo cities with all those opportunities, only wants to return home and while she might see the opportunities, she sees them as less important and wouldn’t trust whenever she ended up in the Anglo’s.

Meanwhile, with Makina’s brother, he went there because he was told there was land there (supposedly) from his late father. In fact, after getting drunk and being encouraged by one of Mr. Aitch’s (another of the crime lord’s) henchman he said, ” Someone’s got to fight for what’s ours and I got the balls if you don’t” (29) which shows that despite being uncertain and somewhat manipulated, he decided to journey to the Anglo cities. Not because, as I interpret it, he wanted to but because he saw an opportunity for himself on the other side and he took it because no one else wanted to.

By the end of the story, we see the result of Makina’s journey and the result of her brother’s. We see that through her experience she deals with a harsher environment, a world that confuses (the attempts at finding her brothers location) and discriminates against her (cops profiling her from afar, an officer almost arresting her). She does seem to enjoy some aspects of the life there such as the homegrown-Anglo people and the same-sex wedding ceremony she witnessed (mostly the emotions she felt witnessing the onlookers being happy). Her end result’s with being given the opportunity to become a citizen of the Anglos with a fake identity.

On the other hand, the result of her brothers journey is that he is matured, by taking on the identity of a family’s Anglo son who joined the Army recklessly. He agreed to go in his place because of his early struggles there and, through his experience, has matured and wants to stay because, while he’s not an Anglo citizen, he wants to understand why they fight for their country, why it matters to them.

Before I end, the concept of the journey is meant to convey the growth of a character through experiences that challenge or inspire them. With Makina, we see her experiences in her travels to find her brother, while also being inspired a bit by the Anglo livelihood; her brother faced poverty and warfare and matured because of it and also stays there to understand why they fight for their country. Both characters were challenged in their journeys and inspired by the Anglo homeland that has given the both of them an opportunity to do more for themselves here.


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