My discussion question for Azuela’s Underdogs is How do Demetrio and his men’s views of Luis Cervantes change throughout the novel?
Cervantes is first introduced on page 20, in which he describes himself as a revolutionist, as well as a medical student and journalist. Demetrio’s men are immediately suspicious of him, and assume he is a Government soldier. When he is first brought to Demetrius, he informs him that he wrote a piece in favor of the revolution. Cervantes claims he is one of their coreligionists, in which he defines as “a person who possesses the same religion, who is inspired by the same ideals, who defends for and fights for the same cause you are now fighting for” (Azuela, 20). Demetrius then asks him what they are fighting for, in which Cervantes has no answer for. This leads to further distrust of Cervantes and the men refer to him as “Tenderfoot.”
As the novel continues, Cervantes’ supposedly true feelings of the revolution are revealed. He claims to have a hatred of the officers and of his superiors, which shows evidence of his loyalty towards the rebels (24). Soldiers even begin coming to him with their confessions of their true feelings of their superiors. This shows the shift of feelings towards Cervantes, which are more positive. However, there is still a sense of uneasiness around Cervantes since he has still not shown his intentions. He is visibly distraught by this, and fails to eat and sleep.
Demetrius is later badly wounded in battle, and since Cervantes is a medical student, he seeks him out for treatment. This shows how he starts to accept Cervantes, and he even compliments his work. However, Venancio, one of Demetrius’ men states, “But don’t forget that tenderfoots are like moisture, they seep in everywhere. It’s the tenderfoots who stopped us reaping the harvest of the revolution” (34). While Cervantes has a more positive reputation, he is still not trusted by the men he wants to be trusted by.
Ironically, a week later, Venancio’s view of Cervantes drastically changes. Cervantes tells him he can easily get a degree to pursue a medical profession, claiming that it only requires a few weeks of assistant work at a hospital and a letter of recommendation from his chief (35). From that night onwards, Venancio begins to call him “Louie,” instead of “Tenderfoot.” This is a step in the right direction for Cervantes, and he is asked to join Demetrius and his men in fighting against the Federals.
At the end of the novel, Cervantes leaves to finish school and get his medical degree before Demetrius and his men are done fighting in the revolution. He sends a letter to Venancio, in which he mentions that it will not be easy for Venancio to become a doctor in that country. Instead, he asks Venancio to join him as a business partner and set up a Mexican restaurant in the town he is in, “making him rich in no time” (118). This causes the reader to question Cervantes’ true intentions. If Cervantes would not have told Venancio how easy it would be to become a doctor, would Demetrius and his men ever accept him as one of their own? It appears that Cervantes is out to get what he wants from others for his own good, and now needs a business partner. With that in mind, was Cervantes ever a true revolutionist?