7.3 “No oyes ladrar los perros” – Juan Rulfo

9 min readjanuary 30, 2023

Riya Patel

Riya Patel


Alejandra Ramos

AP Spanish Literature 💃🏽

24 resources
See Units

"No oyes ladrar los perros" by Juan Rulfo explores a father's journey while carrying his son through treacherous terrain, offering insights into their strained relationship and the challenges they face.

Context Behind “No oyes ladrar los perros”

Author Background

Juan Rulfo was a Mexican writer known for his stark and poetic narrative style. He is acclaimed for his contributions to Mexican literature, particularly his use of magical realism. Rulfo's work often delves into the lives of ordinary people, presenting a blend of realism and imagination that captures the essence of rural Mexico.
Image Courtesy of The Library of Congress

Time and Place

📜 Historical: The story is situated within the historical backdrop of rural Mexico, a region grappling with pressing societal issues. Poverty, violence, and isolation were not uncommon during this era, as many rural communities struggled with limited access to resources, economic opportunities, and essential services. The story's portrayal of characters traversing this landscape sheds light on the daily struggles faced by individuals trying to survive amidst daunting challenges. Their journey serves as a microcosm of the larger historical context, illustrating the harsh realities of life in a society marked by hardship and scarcity.
🗺️ Geographic: The rugged and desolate setting in which the story unfolds serves as a powerful metaphor for the emotional and physical burdens carried by the characters. The unforgiving terrain mirrors the harshness of their lives, symbolizing the challenges they must overcome. The vast, empty landscape accentuates their isolation and vulnerability, emphasizing the solitary nature of their journey. This geographical context heightens the reader's understanding of the characters' plight and creates a vivid backdrop against which their struggles play out.

Societal Context

👑 Political: Although the story does not overtly address political themes, it subtly reflects the broader societal challenges of its time. Mexico's political climate during the era was characterized by complexity, with a mix of political ideologies, social unrest, and governance struggles. The story's focus on ordinary individuals navigating a tumultuous landscape can be interpreted as a commentary on the resilience and perseverance required to navigate a politically intricate environment. The characters' arduous journey becomes a metaphor for the challenges faced by everyday people in a politically complex and often unpredictable Mexico.
🧑🏽‍🤝‍🧑🏻 Socio-economic: The characters' journey becomes a lens through which the socio-economic disparities of rural Mexico come into focus. Limited access to medical care, a lack of resources, and a dearth of support systems highlight the harsh realities experienced by marginalized communities. The characters' struggle to find help and the father's determination to ensure his son's well-being underscore the dire circumstances faced by those without the means to access essential services. By depicting these challenges, the story offers insights into the broader socio-economic context of a society where survival is a constant battle for those at the margins.
🎭 Cultural: Immersed in the fabric of rural Mexican life, the narrative captures cultural elements that define the characters' identities and experiences. The significance of family ties, the tenacity required to endure adversity, and the indomitable spirit of individuals resonate with cultural values prevalent in this context. The characters' journey becomes a testament to the resilience ingrained in their cultural identity, emphasizing the enduring strength and determination that sustain them in the face of adversity. This cultural context enriches the story, providing depth and authenticity to the characters' struggles and triumphs.

Need To Know About "No oyes ladrar los perros"

Character List and Descriptions

Image Courtesy of AP Spanish Literature
Father (Unnamed): The father is a central character in the story, portrayed as a determined and exhausted figure carrying his severely wounded son, Ignacio, through the rugged terrain. His actions and internal monologues reveal his deep love for his son, despite their strained relationship. The father's determination to save Ignacio's life becomes a testament to his resilience and unwavering devotion.
Son (Ignacio): Ignacio is the injured and silent son who becomes the physical and emotional burden that the father carries. His silence and suffering reflect his vulnerability, and his presence underscores the challenges faced by both characters. Ignacio's lack of dialogue emphasizes the breakdown in communication between him and his father, deepening the emotional tension in the narrative.
The characters are situated within the broader context of rural Mexico, where poverty, violence, and isolation are prevalent. The father's determination to carry Ignacio reflects the socio-economic challenges faced by marginalized communities, where access to medical care and resources is limited. The strained relationship between the characters mirrors the complex interplay of interpersonal dynamics in a society marked by hardship. Their journey through a rugged and harsh landscape is emblematic of the physical and emotional burdens they carry, illustrating the resilience required to navigate their challenging environment. The father's care for his son amidst the difficulties embodies the cultural importance of family and the lengths individuals go to protect their loved ones in the face of adversity.

Literary Terms and Devices

Narrador Omnisciente (Omniscient Narrator)
The omniscient narrator in the story offers an all-encompassing perspective, delving into the inner thoughts, emotions, and experiences of both the father and Ignacio. This narrative technique allows the reader to gain deep insights into the characters' motivations, fears, and struggles. As the narrator switches between the perspectives of the two characters, the reader gains a more profound understanding of their individual perspectives and the complexities of their relationship. The omniscient narrator's ability to reveal the characters' innermost thoughts enhances the emotional depth of the story, fostering a stronger connection between the reader and the characters.
Diálogo (Dialogue)
Dialogue plays a crucial role in revealing the dynamics between the characters, particularly the strained relationship between the father and Ignacio. Through their conversations, the reader perceives the tension, frustration, and underlying emotions that characterize their interactions. The dialogue serves as a vehicle for conveying their struggle to communicate effectively, highlighting the emotional distance between them. By employing dialogue, the story effectively captures the nuances of their relationship and allows the reader to witness their emotional journey firsthand.
Tono (Tone)
The tone of the story fluctuates between despair, determination, and resignation. The father's desperate pleas and Ignacio's silent suffering contribute to a tone of urgency and desperation as they navigate the unforgiving landscape. The father's determination to save his son infuses the narrative with a sense of hope and resolve. At the same time, moments of resignation and bitterness reflect the emotional toll of their journey and the strains in their relationship. The shifting tone enriches the story, underscoring the emotional complexity of their experiences and engaging the reader on a visceral level.
Prefiguración (Foreshadowing)
Foreshadowing is subtly interwoven into the narrative, hinting at the severity of Ignacio's injuries and the challenges they will face. The anticipation of future events adds a layer of suspense and depth to the story. For instance, the initial reference to Ignacio's wounds alludes to the gravity of his condition, setting the stage for the ensuing struggle. Foreshadowing enhances the reader's engagement by creating a sense of anticipation and curiosity, drawing them further into the characters' journey.
Ambiente (Setting)
The harsh and desolate landscape in which the story unfolds serves as a powerful backdrop that shapes the characters' experiences. The rugged terrain and isolation mirror the difficulties and emotional burdens they carry. The setting becomes more than a mere physical backdrop; it becomes a reflection of their challenges and a metaphor for their journey. The environment influences their actions and decisions, underscoring the profound impact of their surroundings on their emotional and physical states.
Atmósfera (Atmosphere)
The atmosphere of the story is suffused with tension and urgency as the father carries his wounded son through the challenging landscape. The reader is enveloped in the characters' emotional turmoil and physical struggle, creating a palpable sense of empathy. The atmosphere conveys the characters' desperation, determination, and vulnerability, enveloping the reader in their emotional journey. It enhances the story's immersive quality, drawing the reader into the characters' world and heightening the emotional impact of their experiences.

Summary of "No oyes ladrar los perros"

Image Courtesy of DRAGON Blog
The story unfolds as a father undertakes a daunting journey across a desolate Mexican landscape, burdened by the weight of his severely wounded son, Ignacio. Their physical and emotional struggles come to the forefront, painting a vivid picture of their dire circumstances. Amidst the challenges, the narrative unearths the layers of their strained relationship, portraying the complexities of familial bonds tested by adversity. The father's relentless determination to find safety for his son becomes the driving force, showcasing the extent of his love and the lengths to which he is willing to go.

Themes in "No oyes ladrar los perros"

Las Relaciones Interpersonales (Interpersonal Relationships)
The heart of the story lies in the intricate web of interpersonal relationships, primarily that of the father and Ignacio. The strained connection between them is skillfully depicted, revealing how external challenges and adversity have eroded their bond. The narrative exposes the intricate emotions and dynamics at play within families when faced with extreme circumstances, ultimately shedding light on the fragility and resilience of such relationships.
El Amor y el Desprecio (Love and Contempt)
Within the father's actions, a complex interplay of love and contempt unfolds. His determination to carry Ignacio despite their troubled history speaks to a deep wellspring of love, contrasting with moments of frustration and resentment. The juxtaposition of these conflicting emotions adds depth to the characters, highlighting the nuanced emotions that can exist within familial relationships, even in the face of difficult situations.
La Comunicación o Falta de Comunicación (Communication or Lack of Communication)
The story skillfully weaves the theme of communication, or lack thereof, into its fabric. The limited dialogue between the father and Ignacio mirrors the emotional chasm between them. The struggle to convey feelings, fears, and hopes highlights the difficulties of connecting on a meaningful level amidst the weight of their circumstances. This theme emphasizes the inherent challenges of effective communication, even within the closest relationships.
Las Relaciones Familiares (Family Relationships)
At its core, the narrative delves into the intricate tapestry of family relationships. The father's relentless determination to protect and care for Ignacio epitomizes the lengths to which a parent will go for their child. This exploration of familial bonds, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, underscores the enduring strength of family ties and the enduring commitment to safeguard loved ones. The story underscores the idea that even in the harshest of circumstances, family remains a cornerstone of support and resilience.

Analysis of "No oyes ladrar los perros"

The story "No oyes ladrar los perros" by Juan Rulfo is an of human resilience and the complexities of familial relationships set against the backdrop of a desolate Mexican landscape. Through the arduous journey of the father and his wounded son, Ignacio, Rulfo delves into the profound emotional depths of their experiences. The physical journey becomes a metaphor for the emotional burdens they carry, as the unforgiving terrain mirrors the challenges they face in their relationship and their lives. The characters' limited communication reflects not only their struggle to connect but also highlights the broader theme of isolation within the harsh socio-economic context of rural Mexico.
The strained yet enduring bond between the father and Ignacio serves as a smaller version of the broader societal challenges of the time, emphasizing the impact of poverty, violence, and limited resources on individuals and families. The juxtaposition of love and contempt within the father's actions adds a layer of complexity, illustrating the multi-faceted nature of human emotions. Rulfo skillfully employs foreshadowing to create a sense of suspense, heightening the reader's engagement as they journey alongside the characters. The story's omniscient narrator provides insight into the characters' inner thoughts, enriching the narrative with a depth of emotion that underscores the universal themes of love, sacrifice, and the enduring human spirit.
"No oyes ladrar los perros" by Juan Rulfo has had a significant impact in several ways: The story is considered a classic of magical realist literature and has been widely studied and analyzed for its unique style and themes. The story reflects on Mexican culture and history, and its themes of identity, death, and the afterlife resonate with many readers. The style and themes of "No oyes ladrar los perros" have been influential to other writers and artists, particularly in the Latin American literary tradition. Impact on the Spanish language: The story has had a lasting impact on the Spanish language, with its vivid and haunting descriptions and distinctive style influencing the way that the Spanish language is used in literature. Political impact: The story is set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, and its themes of poverty, inequality, and political oppression have made it a powerful commentary on Mexican society.

Stay Connected

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.

© 2024 Fiveable Inc. All rights reserved.