Symbolism in Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera Discussion

Question Description

I need support with this Literature question so I can learn better.

This essay asks you to explore some key element of literary importance in the novel Signs Preceding the End of the World. You may explore the work using several techniques of literary analysis, including study of cultural contexts, such as the current situation of immigration at the border. You may also focus on literary elements such as irony, symbolism, setting, character development, the hero's journey, fiction noir, etc. Please choose only one of these approaches. For example: Do not attempt to talk about the hero's journey and then switch your focus to symbolism. (You may certainly mention instances of symbolism in an essay about the hero's journey, but make sure your thesis is centered around one central idea.)

Here is an example of a focused thesis: In Yuri Hererra's Signs Preceding the End of the World, Makina's journey across the border demonstrates that she is representative of the anti-hero because her journey technically brings her into conflict with the law, and though she is an illegal immigrant, she demonstrates heroic courage and by novel's end is fundamentally transformed.

This essay will test your ability to synthesize your own ideas about the novel with those of leading journalists and scholars. You will use your observations and research to produce a text that successfully argues in favor of some particular interpretation of the work. You must use one professional source to support your idea. Tip: (Find the source before you begin your essay, it’s much harder later…)

You should choose to write about a topic suitable to the assignment’s length, 4-6 pages. In choosing, be aware that you are expected to research at least one outside source for this essay. (Feel free to use one suggested by your peers in our discussion) You will also be using the novel itself as a primary source. Your research should be focused on a professional, scholarly source that provides insightful and relevant information about the topic you choose.

Your essay must additionally have a clearly stated purpose and must present the student writer’s synthesis of their own carefully crafted ideas and those of their source, clearly making distinctions between the two. A successful essay will exhibit the following characteristics:

1. Present an appropriate and creatively ambitious topic centered around a single thesis.

2. Have a clear sense of purpose, easily stated if put on the spot to do so.

3. Provide informed and detailed analysis, no wikipedia or general knowledge based sources please.

4. Incorporate the novel and a professional and credible source seamlessly.

5. Provide clear, thoughtful organization and exhibit skillful narration.

6. Follow MLA Guidelines.

7. 4-6 pages in length

Unformatted Attachment Preview

​1 ​T HE EARTH I’m dead, Makina said to herself when everything lurched: a man with a cane was crossing the street, a dull groan suddenly surged through the asphalt, the man stood still as if waiting for someone to repeat the question and then the earth opened up beneath his feet: it swallowed the man, and with him a car and a dog, all the oxygen around and even the screams of passers-by. I’m dead, Makina said to herself, and hardly had she said it than her whole body began to contest that verdict and she flailed her feet frantically backward, each step mere inches from the sinkhole, until the precipice settled into a perfect circle and Makina was saved. Slippery bitch of a city, she said to herself. Always about to sink back into the cellar. This was the first time the earth’s insanity had affected her. The Little Town was riddled with bullet holes and tunnels bored by five centuries of voracious silver lust, and from time to time some poor soul accidentally discovered just what a half-assed job they’d done of covering them over. A few houses had already been sent packing to the underworld, as had a soccer pitch and half an empty school. These things always happen to someone else, until they happen to you, she thought. She had a quick peek over the precipice, empathized with the poor soul on his way to hell. Happy trails, she said without irony, and then muttered Best be on with my errand. Her mother, Cora, had called her and said Go and take this paper to your brother. I don’t like to send you, child, but who else can I trust it to, a man? Then she hugged her and held her there on her lap, without drama or tears, simply because that’s what Cora did: even if you were two steps away it was always as if you were on her lap, snuggled between her brown bosoms, in the shade of her fat, wide neck; she only had to speak to you for you to feel completely safe. And she’d said Go to the Little Town, talk to the top dogs, make nice and they’ll lend a hand with the trip. She had no reason to go see Mr. Double-U first, but a longing for water led her to the steam where he spent his time. She could feel the earth all the way under her nails as though she’d been the one to go down the hole. The sentry was a proud, sanguine boy who Makina had once shucked. It had happened in the awkward way those things so often do, but since men, all of them, are convinced that they’re such straight shooters, and since it was clear that with her he’d misfired, from then on the boy hung his head whenever he ran into her. Makina strolled past him and he came out of his booth as if to say No one gets through, or rather Not you, you’re not getting through, but his impulse lasted all of three seconds, because she didn’t stop and he didn’t dare say any of those things and could only raise his eyes authoritatively once she’d already gone by and was entering the Turkish baths. Mr. Double-U was a joyful sight to see, all pale roundness furrowed with tiny blue veins; Mr. Double-U stayed in the steam room. The pages of the morning paper were plastered to the tiles and Mr. Double-U peeled them back one by one as he progressed in his reading. He looked at Makina, unsurprised. What’s up, he said. Beer? Yeah, Makina said. Mr. Double-U grabbed a beer from a bucket of ice at his feet, popped the top with his hand and passed it to her. They each uptipped the bottle and drank it all down, as if it were a contest. Then in silence they enjoyed the scuffle between the water inside and the water outside. So how’s the old lady? Mr. Double-U inquired. A long time ago, Cora had helped Mr. Double-U out; Makina didn’t know what had happened exactly, just that at the time Mr. Double-U was on the run and Cora had hidden him till the storm blew over. Ever since then, whatever Cora said was law. Oh, you know. Alive, as she likes to say. Mr. Double-U nodded, and then Makina added She’s sending me on an assignment, and indicated a cardinal point. Off to the other side? Mr. Double-U asked. Makina nodded yes. Ok, go, and I’ll send word; once you’re there my man will get you across. Who? He’ll know you. They sat in silence once more. Makina thought she could hear all the water in her body making its way through her skin to the surface. It was nice, and she’d always enjoyed her silences with Mr. Double-U, ever since she first met him back when he was a scared, skinny animal she brought pulque and jerky to while he was in hiding. But she had to go, not just to do what she had to do, but because no matter how tight she was with him, she knew she wasn’t allowed to be there. It was one thing to make an exception, and quite another to change the rules. She thanked him, Mr. Double-U said Don’t mention it, child, and she versed. She knew where to find Mr. Aitch but wasn’t sure she’d be able to get in, even though she knew the guy guarding the entrance there, too: a hood whose honeyed words she’d spurned, but she knew what he was like. They said he’d offed a woman, among other things; left her by the side of the road in an oil drum on orders from Mr. Aitch. Makina had asked him if it was true back when he was courting her, and all he said was Who cares if I did or not, what counts is I please ’em all. Like it was funny. She got to the place. Pulquería Raskolnikova, said the sign. Beneath it, the guard. This one she couldn’t swish past, so she stopped in front and said Ask him if he’ll see me. The guard stared back with glacial hatred and gave a nod, but didn’t budge from the door; he stuck a piece of gum in his mouth, chewed it for a while, spat it out. He eyed Makina a little longer. Then turned half-heartedly, as though about to take a leak simply to pass the time, sauntered into the cantina, came back out and leaned against the wall. Still saying nothing. Makina snorted and only then did the guard drawl Are you going in or what? Inside there were probably no more than five drunks. It was hard to tell for sure, because there was often one facedown in the sawdust. The place smelled, as it should, of piss and fermented fruit. In the back, a curtain separated the scum from the VIPs: though it was just a piece of cloth, no one entered the inner sanctum without permission. I don’t have all day, Makina heard Mr. Aitch say. She pulled the curtain aside and behind it found the bird-print shirt and glimmering gold that was Mr. Aitch playing dominoes with three of his thugs. His thugs all looked alike and none had a name as far as she knew, but not one lacked a gat. Thug .45 was on Mr. Aitch’s side playing against the two Thugs .38. Mr. Aitch had three dominoes in his hand and glanced sidelong at Makina without setting them down. He wasn’t going to invite her to sit. You told my brother where to go to settle some business, said Makina. Now I’m off to find him. Mr. Aitch clenched a fist around the bones and stared straight at her. You gonna cross? he asked eagerly, though the answer was obvious. Makina said Yes. Mr. Aitch smiled, sinister, with all the artlessness of a snake disguised as a man coiling around your legs. He shouted something in a tongue Makina didn’t speak, and when the barman poked his head around the curtain said Some pulque for the young lady. The barman’s head disappeared and Mr. Aitch said Of course, young lady, of course … You’re asking for my help, aren’t you? Too proud to spell it out but you’re asking me for help and I, look at me, I’m saying Of course. Here came the hustle. Mr. Aitch was the type who couldn’t see a mule without wanting a ride. Mr. Aitch smiled and smiled, but he was still a reptile in pants. Who knew what the deal was with this heavy and her mother. She knew they weren’t speaking, but put it down to his top-dog hubris. Someone had spread that he and Cora were related, someone else that they had a hatchet to bury, though she’d never asked, because if Cora hadn’t told her it was for a reason. But Makina could smell the evil in the air. Here came the hustle. All I ask is that you deliver something for me, an itty bitty little thing, you just give it to a compadre and he’ll be the one who tells you how to find your kin. Mr. Aitch leaned over toward one of the .38 thugs and said something in his ear. The thug got up and versed from the VIP zone. The barman reappeared with a dandy full of pulque. I want pecan pulque, Makina said, and I want it cold, take this frothy shit away. Perhaps she’d gone too far, but some insolence was called for. The barman looked at Mr. Aitch, who nodded, and he went off to get her a fresh cup. The thug returned with a small packet wrapped in gold cloth, tiny really, just big enough to hold a couple of tamales, and gave it to Mr. Aitch, who took it in both hands. Just one simple little thing I’m asking you to do, no call to turn chicken, eh? Makina nodded and took hold of the packet, but Mr. Aitch didn’t let go. Knock back your pulque, he said, pointing to the barman who’d reappeared, glass at the ready. Makina slowly reached out a hand, drank the pecan pulque down to the dregs and felt its sweet earthiness gurgle in her guts. Cheers, said Mr. Aitch. Only then did he let the bundle go. You don’t lift other people’s petticoats. You don’t stop to wonder about other people’s business. You don’t decide which messages to deliver and which to let rot. You are the door, not the one who walks through it. Those were the rules Makina abided by and that was why she was respected in the Village. She ran the switchboard with the only phone for miles and miles around. It rang, she answered, they asked for so and so, she said I’ll go get them, call back in a bit and your person will pick up, or I’ll tell you what time you can find them. Sometimes they called from nearby villages and she answered them in native tongue or latin tongue. Sometimes, more and more these days, they called from the North; these were the ones who’d often already forgotten the local lingo, so she responded to them in their own new tongue. Makina spoke all three, and knew how to keep quiet in all three, too. The last of the top dogs had a restaurant called Casino that only opened at night and the rest of the day was kept clear so the owner, Mr. Q, could read the papers alone at a table in the dining room, which had high ceilings, tall mullioned windows and gleaming floorboards. With Mr. Q Makina had her own backstory: two years before she’d worked as a messenger during emergency negotiations he and Mr. Aitch held to divvy up the mayoral candidates when their supporters were on the verge of hacking one another to pieces. Midnight messages to a jittery joe who had no hand in the backroom brokering and suddenly, on hearing the words Makina relayed (which she didn’t understand, even if she understood), decided to pull out. An envelope slipped to a small-town cacique who went from reticent to diligent after a glance at the contents. Through her, the top dogs assured surrender here and sweet setups there, no bones about it; thus everything was resolved with discreet efficiency. Mr. Q never resorted to violence—at least there was nobody who’d say he did—and he’d certainly never been heard to raise his voice. Anyhow, Makina had neither been naive nor lost any sleep blaming herself for the invention of politics; carrying messages was her way of having a hand in the world. Casino was on a second floor, and the door downstairs was unguarded; why bother: who would dare? But Makina had no time to ask for an appointment and anyone who knew her knew she wasn’t one to put people out for the sake of it. She’d already arranged for her crossing and how to find her brother, now she had to make sure there would be someone to help her back; she didn’t want to stay there, nor have to endure what had happened to a friend who stayed away too long, maybe a day too long or an hour too long, at any rate long enough too long that when he came back it turned out that everything was still the same, but now somehow all different, or everything was similar but not the same: his mother was no longer his mother, his brothers and sisters were no longer his brothers and sisters, they were people with difficult names and improbable mannerisms, as if they’d been copied off an original that no longer existed; even the air, he said, warmed his chest in a different way. She walked up the stairs, through the mirrored hall and into the room. Mr. Q was dressed, as usual, in black from neck to toe; there were two fans behind him and on the table a national paper, open to the politics. Beside it, a perfect white cup of black coffee. Mr. Q looked her in the eye as soon as Makina versed the mirrored hall, as if he’d been waiting for her, and when she stood before him he made a millimetric move with his head that meant Sit. A few seconds later, without being told, a smocked waiter approached with a cup of coffee for her. I’m going to the Big Chilango, Makina said; no bush-beating for Mr. Q, no lengthy preambles or kowtows here: even if it seemed that skimming the news was downtime, that was where his world was at work; and she added On a bus, to take care of some family business. You’re going to cross, said Mr. Q. It wasn’t a question. Of course not. Forget trying to figure out how he’d heard about it so fast. You’re going to cross, Mr. Q repeated, and this time it sounded like an order. You’re going to cross and you’re going to get your feet wet and you’re going to be up against real roughnecks; you’ll get desperate, of course, but you’ll see wonders and in the end you’ll find your brother, and even if you’re sad, you’ll wind up where you need to be. Once you arrive, there will be people to take care of everything you require. He spoke each word very clearly, without stressing any, without moving a single muscle that wasn’t strictly necessary. He stopped speaking and took one of Makina’s hands, wrapped his fist around it and said This is your heart. Got it? Mr. Q didn’t blink. The light swept the steam from their coffee cups crossways, infusing the air with its bitter scent. Makina thanked him and versed out of there. She stopped in the mirrored hall to think for a moment about what Mr. Q had said; sometimes she preferred the crass talk of Mr. Aitch, and certainly the slow celebratory tone with which Mr. DoubleU spoke; but with Mr. Q nothing went to waste, it was always like pebbles were pouring from his lips, even if she didn’t rightly know what each one was supposed to mean. She looked into the mirrors: in front of her was her back: she looked behind but found only the never-ending front, curving forward, as if inviting her to step through its thresholds. If she crossed them all, eventually, after many bends, she’d reach the right place; but it was a place she didn’t trust. ​2 ​T HE WATER CRO SSI NG She couldn’t get lost. Every time she came to the Big Chilango she trod softly, because that was not the place she wanted to leave her mark, and she told herself repeatedly that she couldn’t get lost, and by get lost she meant not a detour or a sidetrack but lost for real, lost forever in the hills of hills cementing the horizon; or lost in the awe of all the living flesh that had built and paid for palaces. That was why she chose to travel underground to the other bus depot. Trains ran around the entire circulatory system but never left the body; down there the heavy air would do her no harm, and she ran no risk of becoming captivated. And she mustn’t get lost or captivated, too many people were waiting for her. Someone was covering her post at the switchboard while she was away, but only she spoke all three tongues and only she had mastered the poker face for bad news and the nonchalance with which certain names, oh, so long yearned for, had to be pronounced. Most important were the ones awaiting her without caring what tongues she spoke or how she couriered. Her kid sister, who’d press close up beside her to eavesdrop on adult troubles, eyes round with attention, hands on knees. Makina could feel her absorbing the world, storing away the passions that came and went along the phone cord. (Of course I still love you, Very soon, Any day now, Hold your horses, Did you get it? Did she tell you? When was that? How did it happen? How in the name of God is that possible? His name is so and so, Her name is such and such, Don’t get me wrong, I never even dreamed, I don’t live here anymore.) She was growing up quickly, and in a man’s world, and Makina wanted to educate her as to the essentials: how to take stock of them and how to put up with them; how to savor them. How even if they’ve got filthy mouths, they’re fragile; and even if they’re like little boys, they can really get under your skin. And the boyfriend. A boyfriend she had and who she referred to that way though they’d never discussed it and she didn’t feel like anyone’s girl, but she called him her boyfriend because he acted so much like a boyfriend that not calling him so, at least to herself, would have been like denying him something written all over his face. A boyfriend. She’d shucked him for the first time back during the brouhaha about the mayors. The day it all ended Makina felt a little like getting wasted, but she didn’t so much feel like liquor, it was more an itch to shake her body, so she’d been reckless and gone and shucked him as she had others on a couple of trips to the Little Town; what’s more, it had been an entirely forgettable foray. And, no question, she’d shaken off the exhaustion of an ordeal that was now over; but even though she hadn’t wanted to be fawned over, just wanted a man to lend himself, he had touched her with such reverence that it must have been smoldering inside him for ages. She’d seen him before at the door of the elementary school where he worked, had noticed the way he wouldn’t look at her, looking instead at every other thing around her; that was where she picked him up, sauntered over saying she needed a shawl so that he’d put his arms round her, took him for a stroll, laughed like a halfwit at everything he said, especially if it wasn’t funny, and finally reeled him in on a line she was tugging from her bedroom. The man made love with a feverish surrender, sucked her nipples into new shapes, and when he came was consumed with tremors of sorrowful joy. After that the man had gone to work in the Big Chilango, and when he came back months later he showed up at the switchboard to tell her something, looking so cocksure and so smart that she guessed what it was that he wanted to say and fixed it so she wouldn’t be left alone with him. The man hovered in silence for hours on end until she said Come back another day, we’ll talk. But when he came back she asked him about his gig and about his trip and never about what was going on inside. Then she asked him to stop coming to her work, said she’d seek him out instead. And she did: every weekend they’d shuck, and whenever she sensed he was about to declare himself, Makina would kiss him with extra-dirty lust just to keep his mouth shut. So she’d managed to put off defining things until the eve of the journey she was being sent on by Cora. Then, before she could silence him, he threw up his hands and though he didn’t touch her she felt like he was hurling her from the other end of the room. You’re scared of me, he said. Not cause of something I did, just cause you want to be. He’d stood and was facing her, straightening his sky-blue shirt; he was leaving without making love, but Makina didn’t say anything because she saw how hard it had been for him to get up from the bed; she could play dumb—I don’t know what you’re talking about—or accuse him of making a scene, but the slight tremble betrayed by his lips, the bot ...
Purchase answer to see full attachment
Student has agreed that all tutoring, explanations, and answers provided by the tutor will be used to help in the learning process and in accordance with Studypool's honor code & terms of service.

Final Answer


Surname 1
Professor’s Name
Symbolism in Signs Preceding the End of the World
Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World” is one of the most-read novels
and rare volumes that approaches linguistics in a new manner, create memorable characters and
tell a compelling story spontaneously. Besides, literature writers and novelists employ a wide
variety of stylistic methods to render their thematic issues. For instance, the literary world widely
recognizes and celebrates Yuri Herrera’s “Signs Preceding the End of the World” because of his
genius application of literary devices to render powerful messages to the reader and society. The
writer excels in creating a masterpiece novel because of his use of symbolism to fuse the
upheavals associated with greed, human nature, and other essential aspects. This paper discusses
the various incidences in which symbolism is used in the novel.
Rucksacks are the first symbols employed in the novel to explain key thematic concerns.
When the author describes the migrant’s luggage, he lays substantial emphasis on the full range
of photographs. The photos symbolize the family ties between the migrants and their families in
their home countries. Despite their challenging life in their new country, the migrants find solace
by looking at the photos and reminiscing about their beautiful life in their homeland.
Furthermore, the migrants carry conventional instruments, including a harp or violin, which
demonstrate that they want to maintain their connection with traditions and culture.

Surname 2
“Rucksacks”, the ...

CristinaP (13779)
Rice University

Top quality work from this tutor! I’ll be back!

It’s my second time using SP and the work has been great back to back :) The one and only resource on the Interwebs for the work that needs to be done!

Thanks, good work

Similar Questions
Related Tags