Snowflakes in Signs Preceding the End of The World

Yuri Herrera’s novel, Signs Preceding The End of The World, translated by Lisa Dillman, tells the story of a young girl, Makina, crossing the border from Mexico to the US in search of her brother. One thing that caught my attention while reading the novel is that Makina is constantly in motion and constantly learning. After Makina finds her brother, the ultimate goal of her dangerous trip across borders, she turns right around to begin her unpredictable journey back home. Though Makina comes across a tough, smart, and strong young woman in the novel, she still learns much from her trip, as do most people when they leave home to travel, no matter what the journey may entail. For example, on her trip to the US, Makina sees snow for the first time. Though it may seem an insignificant milestone, it was a learning moment for Makina. Upon Makina seeing a snow flake for the first time, Herrera writes:

“One came to perch on her eyelashes; it looked more like a stack of crosses or the map of a palace, a solid and intricate marvel at any rate, and when it dissolved a few seconds later she wondered how it was that some things in the world- some countries, some people, could seem eternal when everything was actually like that miniature ice palace: one-of-a-kind, precious, fragile” (55).

While The United States is portrayed as a dark, scary, featureless and dangerous place, there is a moment of beauty and understanding for Makina upon seeing snow for the first time, a sight she may have never encountered had she not left her hometown in Mexico. It was a unifying moment for Makina, making all people and their places of origin seem equally significant and insignificant at the same time. She felt less fear after this realization. Though Makina will not return to Mexico with her brother, she has become more knowledgeable and empathetic because of her journey.

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