Everyone is on a journey, whether they know it or not, to find who they are. The people you encounter and the experiences that you have are all part of this journey. This is demonstrated in Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera and translated by Lisa Dillman. This novel, published in 2009, introduces you to Makina and takes you on her journey. This journey is caused by her brother, who she is trying to find and bring back from the United States of America. However, it is Makina’s brother’s journey that is filled with finding one’s self.
Self-discovery is a tricky thing as it is a different process for everyone. However, there are a few signs, all of which Makina’s brother displays, that are markers for the journey of self-discovery. They are as follows:
1. You’re doing it for yourself.
“He hesitated a moment before he versed, and in the doubt flickering in his eyes you could see he’d spent his whole life there like that, holding back his tears…” (Herrera 29-30).
There is no reason to be on a journey to discover one’s self if it is not for yourself. Makina’s brother decides that this moment will be the moment he makes a change for himself. I believe that he wants to prove to himself that he can be a man as he hasn’t been taken seriously as one his whole life.
2. Things can seem brand new.
“Everything is so stiff here, it’s all numbered and people look you in the eye but they don’t say anything when they do” (Herrera 68).
You are on a new journey with new experiences that you could never have imagined. In his first letter back to home, Makina’s brother explains just how different the United States is from their home. The letter has almost a shocked tone to it as it seems he is trying to process everything.
3. It’s hard (from beginning to end).
“Turned up all sickly and scared as a stray dog, she said. We gave him soup and a sweater and let him sleep under the dish cabinet” (Herrera 75).
You will be put through obstacles that you have never experienced. You will want to give up and return to how things were before. Makina’s brother is broken down and weak, but he preserves. If it was easy everyone would do it.
4. You ended up somewhere you didn’t know you would be.
“A few minutes later the door opened and there appeared before her, dressed in
military uniform, her very own brother” (Herrera 86).
We never know which direction life will take us. We never know where we will end up, and that is especially true for Makina’s brother. He goes to the United States to claim some land that he thought he could have. However, he ends up becoming a decorated military man.
In the end, everyone takes this journey at different points in their life. But, you will run into these four signs, and when you do, you will realize you are on the right track. The journey is never easy but it is what you learn from the journey that makes it worthwhile!