"Talpa" provides excellent examples of Rulfo's attention to detail and his style of painting a picture of the setting and rough environment. Rulfo utilizes the theme of man vs. environment to describe life in the pueblo. As much as he paints plainly a portrait of landscape, Rulfo's details about the harsh environment often mirror the severity of the characters' actions. Killings are thematic in "The Man" and "Talpa," and the environment is used as a harsh burden punishing the characters for their killings.
Rulfo's short stories relate to his life because they occur in the environment that he knows. He is often characterized as a regionalist writer, meaning that his works tell about the people and lifestyle of a specific area -- Rulfo's being the central valley of Mexico in the 1950's. Rulfo was born in 1917 in Jalisco. His childhood was difficult, and the violence in the 1920s probably impacted him and made his writing style as violent and severe as it is. He was left an orphan before the age of ten. These harsh realities of life are echoed in his works, often about killings. That tone is also mirrored within the environment.
Monsivis, a notable Mexican journalist, explains Rulfo's place in Hispanic literature, that he is a trustworthy interpreter of the daily life of those living in the pueblos. "En nuestra cultura nacional Juan Rulfo ha sido un intrprete absolutamente confiable de la lgica ntima, los modos de ser, el sentido idiomtico, la poesa secreta y pblica de los pueblos y las comunidades campesinas, mantenidas en la marginalidad y el olvido" (El Poder). Rulfo recounts with authenticity that life in a not so easy. Rulfo makes this theme more complicated by using the human element. He opens his short story "The Man" with this relationship, man vs. environment, in mind. "The man's feet sank into the sand, leaving a formless track, like some animal's hoof. They clambered over the rocks, digging in at the steepness of the ascent, then they trudged on upward, searching out the horizon."
"The Man" provides for easy analysis of Juan Rulfo's writing style and his theme of man vs. environment because the main character, struggling along the road, hears his own voice and thoughts through an imaginary secondary character, which appears, trudging along the path behind him. As the main character is walking up the hill, a man speaks, " 'He climbed along here, raking the mountainside,' said the man pursuing him. 'He cut away branches with a machete. You can tell that he was gripped by fear. Fear always leaves marks. That's what will cause his downfall' (42)". Later, when the main character arrives at the river, there is a semblance of peace within the story. He is able to rest. At this point, the imaginary man says aloud: "'Nobody will hurt you, son. I'm here to protect you. That's why I was born before you were and my bones hardened before yours" (45)'. In short, the struggles occurring inside the man's conscience are mirrored in narrative as Rulfo works through the text and sends the character across the landscape.
Rulfo's short stories address the real everyday struggles of life. Another great example of this is in his short story "Talpa." As George Schade writes in the introduction to The Burning Plain, "many of