The "Three Dirges," An Excerpt from Requiem Guatemala, is written by Marshall Bennett Connelly. It relates the harsh political and social climate of Guatemala facing unrest. This essay explores the images and symbols used in the excerpt. The thesis states that this story is not a strictly historical account of Guatemala's past because Connelly imposes his personal opinions in an indirect way by using literary motifs.
One of the motifs used is the construction of images. The image of the direct confrontation with the Colonel presents the implicit and indirect message that the Colonel tries to intimidate Don Lazaro. Don Lazaro is ordered to kill five boys under his charge. The image of a cowardly traitor allaying the murders onto another man is clear. The Colonel is a dictator who seizes absolute control and passes sentencing without giving the accused boys the chance of a trial. Don Lazaro is in an extremely difficult position. If he disobeys the Colonel, he will get into trouble. If he obeys the Colonel, he has to answer to the five boys, their families and society. This chaos is set against the innocent and humble night when the second paragraph describes the night scene of San Martin Comitan. This natural, peaceful scenery contrasts with the un-natural, destructive order from the Colonel in the Paragraph 1. Paragraph 3 presents the vivid image about the fighting and unrest that is on-going with the Indian skyrocket violating the airspace. Its grey smoking trail 'racing above the center of the town', presenting the image of a tense battle in the midst of civilization.
In Paragraph 4, the narrative goes back to a scene in the mid afternoon of the day before this fatal order from the Colonel. The Colonel is presented as a strict and harsh man who does not hold any pretext at politeness because he does not waste time on 'pleasantries'. The fact that the Colonel has to tell Don Lazaro to sit down twice shows the great division between him and Don Lazaro. Don Lazaro stands to show defiance or fear. The image is also one of being reluctant to be there to accept orders. It may also mean that Don Lazaro does not dare to sit in the presence of a powerful ruler like the Colonel. Don Lazaro shows his suspicions about the Colonel by not accepting his invitation to take a seat.
Don Lazaro is reminded of the fighting with the sound of rockets in the distant background. He is again ordered to sit when the soldier in attendance places a rickety chair beside him. The Colonel presents the image of a commander who will not be disobeyed. He stands up with measured formality to impress upon Don Lazaro that he wants obedience. Don Lazaro 'gingerly took a seat on the front edge of the chair' (Paragraph 12). This gives the image of a man who still distrusts the Colonel and is afraid of him, getting ready to stand up should something unpleasant happen.
Paragraph 14 and 15 interposes the village's activity as a foil to remind Don Lazaro of his ties as the responsible Mayor of his village and how he is torn between the order from the Colonel and his moral duty as the Mayor. The reference to the background reflects the poignant image of how treacherous Don Lazaro may be feeling; being ordered to kill five boys because they were teaching the campesinos literacy. The Colonel then issues a more direct threat to Don Lazaro by accusing him of being among those who the boys were teaching to read by asking; ' "Maybe even you, eh"' (Paragraph 16). The image of a frightened Don Lazaro is evident to the Colonel as he forces Don Lazaro to continue to listen to instructions. (Paragraph 18). The Colonel and all those in power desire ...
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(Three Dirges by Marshall Bennett Connelly Book Report/Review)
“Three Dirges by Marshall Bennett Connelly Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.net/miscellaneous/279174-three-dirges-by-marshall-bennett-connelly.
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