How can we love a place we’ve never been before?

“Makina could never be sure of what she’d dreamed, in the same way that she couldn’t be sure a place was where the map said it was until she’d gotten there” (33).

In Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, the protagonist, Makina, strives to make it across the border from Mexico to the United States. Throughout the novel there are multiple times that she is let down. This relates to the concept of “unsettled space.” Unsettled space is a concept that is difficult for many people, including myself, to wrap our brains around. What is unsettled space? In my opinion, it’s an area where you have created this image in your mind of what it’s supposed to look and feel like. More often than not, we’re disappointed by the reality of our expectations. This plays into what Makina is expecting when she embarks on her journey to America. As she first clears the border, she sees what she thinks is a pregnant woman in the distance, but is disappointed and shocked when she gets closer and discovers it is a dead body. On the contrary, when Makina sees snow for the first time, she is able to put her unsettled space into perspective, hopefully matching, if not exceeding, her expectations.

There are positives and negatives to the concept of unsettled spaces. One can have their expectations exceeded of a place they’ve never been to when they finally get there. Or, like Makina, one can have their expectations and dreamed torn from what they built in their minds. It’s all about perspective and understanding.


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